UK Men's Basketball

Patterson: One player not to blame for loss

Ever the contrarian, Billy Gillispie strayed from the standard coaching habit of making victory or defeat a shared experience. He placed blame for Kentucky's 73-70 loss to LSU on one player.

"If I don't play one guy in the second half, we win," he said after Saturday's game. Gillispie accepted "100 percent" responsibility for the substitution.

Big man Patrick Patterson disagreed with the notion that one player can shoulder blame.

"I never think it's one guy's fault," he said. "Even if there's one guy who can't stop, it's always a team effort."

Gillispie never named a player at blame. Media speculation centered on A.J. Stewart, who came in for Ramon Harris with 34.7 seconds left.

Stewart was part of the miscommunication that led to Tasmin Mitchell's game-winning shot with 9.8 seconds left.

Gillispie noted that Harris seeming injured or short of breath played a factor. "He never wanted to be out of the game," the UK coach said. "That's the type of fighter he is. I should have played him more."

Patterson used the term "constructive criticism" to describe Gillispie's unhappiness with one player.

"It's nothing new," Patterson said. "We know he's always going to say his opinion. He's always going to say what's on his mind. That's what he does. We have to take it."

Meeks expands role

Leading scorer Jodie Meeks became an effective screener. More than ever, he and Patterson collaborated on several scoring plays.

"If you're a shooter, you should be the best screener on the team," Gillispie said. "Either you force help, or you get your team a basket."

Gillispie asked for improvement in finishing drives to the basket.

"He's not trying to make the basket," Gillispie said of Meeks. "He's trying to force the foul too much."

When told Gillispie's critique, Meeks smiled and suggested he didn't need to worry about drawing fouls.

"For the most part, every time I put it on the floor, I get pushed or fouled," he said. "I just have to do a better job finishing. I do get fouled, but I'm not going to get the call every time."

Miller not hesitating

Freshman Darius Miller made a three-pointer with 27.1 seconds left to tie the game at 70. He's made his last five three-point shots.

"I'm just shooting with more confidence," he said. "I'm not really hesitating."

When asked if the magnitude of the moment ran through his mind as he received the ball, Miller said, "The only thing running through my mind was I was open. So I just shot it."

Missing Ramel?

LSU joined Louisville and South Carolina as teams that beat Kentucky with last-second shots this season. By contrast, the Cats made many of the clutch plays last season.

"Last season, we had Ramel (Bradley)," Patterson said. "That was a huge key. We were always looking for Ramel to close them out.

"This year, I just don't think we're doing such a good job as Ramel did as a senior."

Taking care of bid-ness

Going into the game, UK players spoke of a growing need to solidify the team's hold on an NCAA Tournament bid. A victory over the league champion would have looked good on a team's résumé.

Now what?

"We definitely have to win these last two games," Patterson said. "We really want to win the SEC Tournament."

UK finishes the regular season against Georgia on Wednesday and then at Florida on Saturday.

Miller suggested the Cats have experience at playing circle-the-wagon games. "Our backs are probably against the wall," he said. "We've been needing every win for a while now."

Remember 1989?

LSU won at Kentucky for the first time since 1989.

To which, point guard Bo Spencer asked, "It was 1989 the last time we won here? That's when I was born. To not win one here since I was born, that's a pretty big win."

Etc.

■ Marcus Thornton missed 13 of his first 16 shots. Then with the game on the line, he made five of seven.

"When you start to name the (SEC) Player of the Year candidates, his name should be at the top somewhere," LSU Coach Trent Johnson said.

■ The announced attendance of 24,411 marked the biggest crowd at a UK home game this season and fourth-largest in Rupp Arena history.

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