UK Men's Basketball

Season full of stress defusing Meeks' bombs

In the last eight games, Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks has made only 13 of 54 three-point shots. UK Coach Billy Gillispie linked that 24.1-percent accuracy to stress.

"He might have worn down with the stress ... ," Gillispie said at a Sunday news conference. "Of having to do so much. I think it takes a toll on you.

"I think he'll play great (at Creighton on Monday night)."

Gillispie also credited opposing defenses.

UK's other big gun, Patrick Patterson, has shot a pedestrian (for him) 46.8 percent (29-for-62) in the last five games.

Gillispie also saw defense as a factor, this time with a pithy comment.

"If you watch the game, you'll see three guys in the paint all the time," the UK coach said. "I think that has more to do with his shooting."

Creighton Coach Dana Atlman spoke of the challenge Meeks and Patterson present.

"They're two first-round draft choices," he said. "They're good, and they play real hard. Our awareness (on them) has to be really good. We can't give them easy ones. We know we're not going to shut them out, but you can't give them easy ones. You have to make them hit tough ones, and they're going to hit some tough ones. You can't let them get outrageous numbers by giving them easy baskets."

Speaking of outrageous numbers, Meeks set scoring records for arenas this season when he got 54 points at Tennessee and 45 at Arkansas.

The record for the Qwest Center Omaha is 42 points, which Creighton's Cavel Witter scored against Bradley last season.

Miller time

As much as any Cat, freshman Darius Miller has emerged as a third scoring option. He's averaged 8.5 points in the last eight games, which, if extended for an entire season, would rank behind only Meeks and Patterson.

"And he's going to get better and better and better," Gillispie said.

The UK coach noted how Miller has become a dependable defender although usually guarding smaller and quicker players.

"He's learning to play angles," Gillispie said. "He's really competitive, and he's learned how to do that. I'm really proud of him to improve in that area so quickly.

" ... I have great confidence he can guard his guy in the toughest situations."

Creighton's UK fan

Creighton's backup center, Kenton Walker, grew up in San Diego rooting for Kentucky.

"Kentucky was my dream school when Tubby Smith was coaching there,'' he said. "If we could go out and play well against a team like that, it could turn some heads.''

Three-point reliance

Altman acknowledged Creighton's reliance on three-point shooting. "Very dependent," he said.

Senior guard Booker Woodfox, the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, led the nation in three-point accuracy for much of the season. He dipped to second. "I'm not concerned," he said. "Every shooter goes through spells like this. I just need to get into the gym and shoot more shots. ...

"Sometimes when you're thinking about it, thinking that it's going to go in, that's when you miss. I just have to clear my mind and just focus on the game. That's when you hit shots. I need to take good shots and when I get open, just stick it. I need to hold my follow-through. That's what I haven't been doing lately. I've been getting a little too comfortable and just letting my shot go."

Etc.

Creighton is a Jesuit school founded in 1878. It's named for telegraph pioneer Edward Creighton. The enrollment of 7,051 includes 4,104 undergrads. ... Creighton, which beat Bowling Green in its NIT opener, has never won two straight games in a post-season. ... John Saunders and Bob Valvano will call the game for ESPN.

  Comments