UK Men's Basketball

No new solutions to same old problems

Almost total reliance on Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson for points.

Too careless with the ballhandling.

Familiar problems contributed to Kentucky's 60-53 loss at Florida on Saturday. Obviously, season-long problems occurring at this late juncture suggest there's no solution to be found for this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament and beyond (assuming there is a beyond).

Meeks and Patterson scored 30 of UK's first 36 points, which led a reporter from the Florida press corps to ask Coach Billy Gillispie how difficult that made devising an offensive game plan.

"That's your opinion," the UK coach replied. "It's not mine."

Gillispie used the question in the post-game news conference to defend the "other" Cats for trying hard. He thanked them for their effort.

"I'm really proud of all our guys," Gillispie said. "I like them all. As long as they keep fighting like that, they're good basketball players for any team I'll ever coach."

As Gillispie continued his defense of the other Cats, he came close to acknowledging that consistent scoring from anyone other than Meeks and Patterson was not in the offing.

"There are a lot of different ways to win games other than scoring baskets," he said before turning his attention back to the reporter. "I kind of take that personal when you start attacking my other guys."

Gillispie noted that Ramon Harris scored 14 points, which was a career high against an SEC team. Left unsaid was that Florida basically conceded four of Harris' points in the final minute of the game.

Gillispie also mentioned Michael Porter's five three-pointers in the mid-week loss to Georgia.

Harris acknowledged how the defensive attention on Meeks and Patterson creates scoring opportunities for others. But he balked at the suggestion of a two-man team. "It takes five to play defense," Harris said. "It takes five to rebound. They know and everybody knows it takes a team."

Speaking of team effort, the loss did not rob Gillispie of his sense of humor. In discussing Kentucky's latest turnover-fest, he searched out loud for the proper term.

"What do you say when it's a lot of different things put together?" he asked at the news conference.

A reporter offered up the word "collaborative" as a possibility. Gillispie nodded.

"I think it takes five to be successful," he said. "And it takes five to be unsuccessful."

The Cats committed 23 turnovers at Florida. That marked the 11th game this season that Kentucky had 20 or more turnovers.

"We've struggled with it all year long," Gillispie said. "They tried a little too hard."

Turnovers bring the focus on the point guard. But Porter had only one turnover in 29 minutes. Freshman Darius Miller had a career-high six, all in the first half.

"It's not always the point guard," Gillispie said. "It's not always the wing. It's a collection of five guys of either trying too hard (or) trying too hard not to make a mistake."

For fans thinking a coaching move can resolve the reliance on Patterson and Meeks or bring solid ball handling, Gillispie had bad news.

"Games at this point aren't a lot about X-and-Os," the UK coach said. "You have to be sound in your X-and-Os. Our X-and-Os have been sound, and I think they'll continue to be sound.

"The deal is the passion with which you play and rebound and defense. We just have to do a better job executing."

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