UK Men's Basketball

UK notes: Beckham takes winding road to UK

Kentucky's Twany Beckham during UK basketball media day on Thursday Oct. 13, 2011,  in Lexington, Ky.  Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky's Twany Beckham during UK basketball media day on Thursday Oct. 13, 2011, in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

Just to be safe, Twany Beckham kept a low profile when he visited his Louisville home after Kentucky beat U of L Saturday.

"I went home in neutral colors," he said Monday.

"I figured a lot of people would be mad at me," he added. "But nobody was saying anything crazy."

Beckham and UK will be in Louisville on Tuesday for the annual home-away-from-home game in Freedom Hall. The Cats play Arkansas-Little Rock.

"I just can't wait," said Beckham, who added that he'd need about 20 tickets in a perfect world for family and friends.

Beckham played for Ballard. He longed for a scholarship offer from UK, but said he was not disappointed when it did not come.

"I took the prep school route," he said in reference to a season playing for the New Hampton (N.H.) School. "There were a lot of big schools (interested). I wasn't worried about Kentucky, and all that."

Beckham signed with Mississippi State. He was there two and a half years, sitting out the 2009-10 season after undergoing hip surgery, before deciding to transfer.

"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I'm just happy I'm here. Mississippi State is in the past."

Calling Kentucky his "dream school," Beckham said he was concentrating on contributing as a wing this season. He held out hope of playing point guard sometime in the future.

Jones needs 'fun'

As Terrence Jones bounces back from a desultory performance at Indiana and then a finger injury against Chattanooga, UK Coach John Calipari suggested "fun" as a helpful ingredient.

"He did get some balls," Calipari said of Jones' 11 rebounds against Louisville. "We've still got to get him flying up and down the court. Part of it is you've got to have fun, and you can only have fun if you are the aggressor."

Calipari saw Jones as still "a little tentative" against U of L. The coach prescribed rebounding in traffic, defense and physical play as the answer, not settling for three-point shots.

"I've had guys go into slumbers and have to crack out of it, and it's not easy," Calipari said. " ... You've got to play harder than the other guy."

A few moments later, Calipari said of Jones, "He's a terrific player. He'll be fine."

Return to Louisville?

Calipari suggested that attendance will be a key factor in whether Kentucky continue to play an annual home-away-from-home game in Freedom Hall.

"People have to come to it and make it something we want to do," he said.

Calipari dismissed the idea that UK must play a marquee opponent to draw a crowd to Freedom Hall.

"Get us UCLA in there," he said. Little Rock at home, there'd be 24,000 there."

UALR's Ratings Percentage Index of 223 is the second-worst of any remaining Kentucky opponent. Only Tennessee (No. 279) has a worse RPI.

Best UALR player

Sun Belt Conference named UALR forward Will Neighbour its Player of the Week. Whether he plays against Kentucky is problematic.

Neighbour injured his right shoulder in the final seconds of UALR's victory at Denver on Saturday. He was scheduled to have the shoulder examined in Little Rock at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

While unsure of Neighbour's availability against Kentucky, UALR Coach Steve Shields noted that his team plays a key conference game against pre-season favorite Florida Atlantic.

Neighbour helped UALR open the conference season with road victories at North Texas (19 points) and Denver (17).

Why this game?

Shields said he and Calipari had a friendship that dated back to a home-and-home series between UALR and Memphis.

"He said, if we started the series at Memphis, he'd give some money (to UALR in the form of a guarantee)," Shields said.

The UALR coach recalled telling Calipari that the $30,000 guarantee would help the Trojans charter flights for Sun Belt Conference games.

To which, Calipari replied, "How about I give you $50 (thousand)," Shields said. "That's the type of guy he is."


Darius Miller needs five points to become the 58th UK player to score 1,000 in his career. ... Dave Baker and Kyle Macy will call the game.

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