UK Men's Basketball

Cats put on a show at Freedom Hall

LOUISVILLE — After signing autographs and posing for pictures, Kentucky players headed for a rack of basketballs to begin a public workout/show for fans at Freedom Hall on Sunday night.

A fan asked All-American candidate Patrick Patterson to stomp on the Louisville Cardinal logo at center court.

"OK," Patterson said, "if you want me to."

Catching the spirit, teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Josh Harrellson stood on either side of the logo. Then they trotted to midcourt, where they staged a mid-air chest bump before gravity allowed a four-footed landing on the logo.

Before freshmen John Wall and Eric Bledsoe could get in another coordinated stomp, UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua shook his head and waved them away.

When re-living the moment with reporters afterward, Patterson shrugged at the suggestion that U of L's program might take offense.

"If it does, it does," Patterson said. "If it doesn't, it doesn't. That's entirely on them."

Perhaps fearing where the conversation was headed, public relations assistant John Hayden immediately interjected, "Last question for Patrick."

UK Coach John Calipari apparently was unaware of the playful stomping. He expressed doubt that it happened. When it was confirmed, Calipari shook his head and said quietly, "I don't know. Like I said, we do dumb things."

Calipari's message going into Kentucky's annual game at Freedom Hall on Monday night was self-improvement. No doubt the opponent, winless North Carolina-Asheville, could not inspire the Cats. UNC-Asheville (0-5) has been outscored by an average of 27.4 points a game, including a 124-49 wipeout at Tennessee and a 21-point beating at lowly Georgia.

Wall dismissed the possibility of UK trying to put an even bigger one-sided beating on UNC-Asheville.

"We're not trying to ... match anybody's score," he said. "We just want to get better for the next couple games."

Calipari noted the more serious threats dead ahead. The Cats play No. 11 North Carolina on Saturday and No. 13 Connecticut on Dec. 9, the first two ranked opponents on the schedule.

Calipari and the Cats noted the need for better ball handling and fewer turnovers.

"We don't block out," Calipari said, "We turn it over too much. Our shot selection stinks. We don't know how to work the clock. ... Time and score don't matter.

"I tell you, I still love my team. (But) we do some of the dumbest things that freshmen will do."

When a reporter asked Calipari to link such shortcomings with UK's 6-0 record and average margin of victory of 14.9 points, Calipari said, "Three of them, we could have lost."

Calipari welcomed the varied experiences his team has had already.

"The good thing is we've had a close game," he said. "Thank goodness.

"We've been down 18 (against Miami (Ohio)). Thank goodness.

"We've had to win in overtime (against Stanford), thank goodness."

UNC-Asheville Coach Eddie Biedenbach said his talent is better than his team's record suggests. Opponents have made 49.2 percent of their shots and 41 percent of three-point attempts. Meanwhile, UNC-Asheville had shot 37.7 percent (25.2 percent from beyond the arc) and had 60 assists and 96 turnovers.

The nadir was at Tennessee, which led 66-14 at halftime. In that first 20 minutes, UNC-Asheville made only two of 26 shots.

"I've never been involved in a game like that before," Biedenbach said. "Where you couldn't buy a basket and couldn't execute.

"I don't think one game dictates a season."

Meanwhile, Kentucky's public workout served as a fun time. The team had already practiced earlier in the day.

UK players signed autographs and posed for pictures for a crowd of about 4,000.

"Seeing the support of our crazy fans, they're nuts," Calipari said. "And I love it. It puts the pressure on us to prepare, not to win, but to prepare."