COLUMBIA, S.C. — Kentucky Coach John Calipari is synonymous with high-octane offense that — to borrow one of his pet words — "unleashes" players. But he's not wedded to one way of playing.
After UK beat South Carolina 67-58, Calipari said the Cats might be better suited to play a more deliberate style.
"We may be a little different team than I like," Calipari said. "Maybe an 'execution team.' We have to grind it a little more than I'd like.
"If that's how we have to play, that's how we'll play."
The final minutes probably re-inforced Calipari's belief in a style that's more substance than style. Even in winning for the first time in three Southeastern Conference road games, the Cats again stumbled down the stretch. This time, UK helped a South Carolina comeback by taking an ill-advised shot (Brandon Knight) and fouling a three-point shooter (Doron Lamb).
When asked why he thought Kentucky might be better off as an execution team, Calipari said, "Because I think if we play a little too wide open, we make too many decisions that are tough shots (and) tough passes."
Jones: Cussing OK
In his first conversation with reporters since television cameras at Alabama caught Calipari calling him a "selfish (expletive)," Terrence Jones shrugged off the scolding.
"I just didn't think that needed to be that big a deal," he said. "My coach is not the first coach in college basketball (to curse). Coach Cal talks to us just to get our attention and get us to do what he wants us to do."
Cal plays Polson
As he suggested he might do, Calipari played 10th man Jarrod Polson in the meat of the game.
Polson, who came to UK as a walk-on, played three minutes. The freshman first came into the game for Brandon Knight with 9:44 left in the first half and the Cats leading 22-13.
"I'm comfortable playing Jarrod because he plays so hard," Calipari said. " ... The second thing is he won't make mistakes."
Polson showed he wasn't afraid. In the final seconds of the first half he drove into the lane. Although he missed, the attempt made an impression on Calipari.
"He plays physical in practice with our players," the UK coach said. "So I wanted to give him a chance. Why doesn't he deserve a chance?"
Quote of the game
Jones on what the team's first SEC road victory can do for the UK players and their fans:
"Give everybody a reason to have fun Saturday night," he said.
For the first time in four games, Jones started. He went to the bench the previous three games as a possible cure for slow starts by the team and himself.
With him starting, Kentucky got off well.
Jones, who scored 14 points, showed how much Kentucky wanted this game early. He dribbled downcourt, then drove with purpose to a dunk over the SEC's leading shot blocker, Sam Muldrow. The play — one of Jones' three dunks in the half — was part of an 8-0 run that helped the Cats take their largest lead of the half, 26-15.
With 12:49 left, Knight limped off the court. A trainer gave him an ice pack which he placed on his left knee. Afterward, he said he banged knees with a South Carolina player.
Less than two minutes later, a South Carolina player fell into Lamb's leg. The UK player crumpled to the court as an audible gasp came out of the stands.
After a moment, Lamb went to the bench for the TV timeout. No apparent damage was done. Lamb returned to the floor as the game resumed.
With Kansas losing to Texas, Kentucky moved to second on the list of longest active home winning streaks. The Cats have won the last 28 games in Rupp Arena. Duke has the longest active streak: 30. ... UK won without making many three-pointers. The Cats' three treys were their fewest since making three in the victory over Washington on Maui. UK extended its streak of games with at least one three-pointer to 768. That's the third longest active streak, trailing UNLV and Vanderbilt.