In the exhibitions, Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague looked like the quintessential point guard. His 16 assists and four turnovers led UK Coach John Calipari to proclaim Teague ahead of such celebrated predecessors as John Wall and Brandon Knight.
But Calipari used the word "reverting" to describe Teague's regular-season debut Friday night against Marist.
"He was trying to make hero's plays to get oohs and ahhs from the crowd," Calipari said.
Teague finished with three turnovers in 27 minutes, or just one less than in two exhibition games.
"He had two in four minutes: cross-court passes with guys wide open in the corners," Calipari said. "And he held on to the ball too long. ...
"That's what happens when you start getting away from how we're playing and reverting a little bit."
Calipari said he scolded Teague.
"I told him, 'Hey, I've coached point guards before,'" Calipari said. "And the ones that listen to me, do fine. So just listen to what I'm saying and stop arguing with me, and just do what I'm asking you to do."
The day before, Calipari noted how Teague had shown a pass-first mentality. Against Marist, Teague took 12 shots. Only fellow freshman Anthony Davis took more with 13.
To explain the contrast, Calipari said, "Because it's real and it's television and it's the first time in this environment. 'My first game out of the gate' and he lost his mind a little bit."
Calipari noted how senior Darius Miller ran hard on a play in the second half. "Why not start the game that way?" the UK coach said in echoing an all-too-familiar appraisal of the senior from Maysville.
Miller suggested he got lulled into a false sense of confidence by the 125-40 demolition of Morehouse earlier in the week.
"I have to do a better job of getting ready and respecting the opponent," he said. "I think I got caught up in the last game. I can't do that being a leader."
Marist made half its first-half shots. Repeatedly, the Red Foxes drove past a defender and got to the rim.
"It seemed like if it wasn't our man, we didn't worry about it," Miller said of UK's infrequent help defense.
Kentucky plays its next three games away from Rupp Arena, beginning with Tuesday's game against No. 13 Kansas.
"The biggest thing is, will we play the way we have to play for us to win?," Calipari said. "... Will guys play for numbers or play for us? I really think we'll be fine. I just don't know if we're ready to play a team like Kansas."
The victory over Marist sent a mixed message.
"You just saw the first half," Calipari told reporters. "You had to walk away saying, maybe he's right."
That was a reference to Calipari's repeated claim that many teams, maybe 100, could beat Kentucky.
"Then you see the second half and say, 'Well, they can beat anybody,' " Calipari said. "What about the first half? What if we play two halves that way? Anybody in the country can beat us."
Earlier in the week, another Calipari disciple, James "Bruiser" Flint, warned Marist Coach Chuck Martin of the strong buffeting his team would face in Rupp Arena. The game proved Flint a prophet.
"Sit tight, put a helmet on and it will be a different experience," Martin said. "And it was. It was fun. ... It lived up to the billing."