UK Men's Basketball

Notes: Hoosiers' slump dulls series' luster

Kentucky's Josh Harrellson, left, got an earful from Coach John Calipari during the loss at North Carolina. Calipari said an NBA friend complimented the play of Harrellson, saying, "I really like your big white kid."
Kentucky's Josh Harrellson, left, got an earful from Coach John Calipari during the loss at North Carolina. Calipari said an NBA friend complimented the play of Harrellson, saying, "I really like your big white kid."

Kentucky Coach John Calipari held his customary day-before-the-game news conference on Friday.

It wasn't until the last question of a 15-minute exchange before someone asked about Indiana, which plays UK on Saturday. That spoke volumes about how diminished the UK-IU series has become.

In case anyone saw the typical Kentucky basketball myopia at work, CBS sports provided confirmation.

Mike Aresco, an executive vice president for programming, noted recently that the network used to begin its coverage of college basketball with the Kentucky-Indiana game. It switched to UK-North Carolina "because Indiana hasn't been as competitive recently.

"We think when they're back, Kentucky-Indiana clearly will return to the schedule."

IU Coach Tom Crean, who began a comprehensive rebuilding effort in 2008-09, went 6-25 and 10-21 in his first two seasons. The Hoosiers are off to a 7-1 start, which is the product of a schedule rated the 240th toughest by Collegerpi.com.

Still, Calipari vouched for how his good friend, Crean, would restore Indiana basketball to its former luster.

Miller aims to be worry-free

In response to media questions, Calipari said he's trying to work with Darius Miller to find a way to get more production from the former Kentucky Mr. Basketball.

Calipari said he hoped to discover the "something that makes him evaporate" in games.

For not the first time, Miller said he needed to be more assertive.

"Coach has been talking to me about being aggressive at all times," Miller said, "and not really worrying about everything else."

When asked to define the other things that preoccupied his mind, Miller said, "Not worrying about when I think I should shoot or when I think I'm supposed to be doing such and such. Just go out and play."

After the Notre Dame game, Calipari suggested that Miller had the ability to fascinate college basketball observers around the country.

"He told me that at a few meetings we had," Miller said. "I need to step up and be more aggressive. That's what it comes down to."

'White kid impresses'

Calipari said an "NBA buddy" admired the play of UK center Josh Harrellson.

" 'I really like your big white kid,' " the buddy told Calipari.

While noting that Harrellson continued to do things that make a coach "want to punch him in the mouth," Calipari lauded the career backup's increased production.

"He's gotten better," Calipari said. "That's all we should be about."

Post presence mandatory

Calipari noted the importance of post presence, a commodity that freshman Terrence Jones gives UK.

"Any team without post presence, basically you're a fraud," the UK coach said. "Somebody has to draw the double teams," which can lead to open shots for teammates.

Turnovers a key

Crean noted the importance of Indiana not committing turnovers, which can unleash UK's transition game.

"This is not a game where you want to lose the points-off-turnover battle," he said. " ... We have to do the same things like taking care of the ball and guarding the dribble. We cannot lose the points off of the turnover game and the rebounding game."

Creek rises

IU guard Maurice Creek scored a career-high 31 points against Kentucky last season.

Crean suggested that performance might give him added confidence going into the game at Rupp Arena.

"He's shooting the ball very well right now," the IU coach said of Creek's 9-for-21 three-point shooting in the last three games. "I hope that carries over into the game. ... It's not like I can walk in here and say, well, you know he's that much more explosive today than he was a week ago. That takes longer to measure with him, but I think knowing that he's had success in games like that and had success as a freshman, those things help."

Etc.

UK leads the series 30-23, including a 9-3 advantage in games played in Lexington. ... Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale will call the game for ESPN.

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