UK Men's Basketball

Kentucky-Alabama notes: Miller closes the deal for Cats

Kentucky Wildcats guard Darius Miller (1) hit this "three" in the first half of the University of Kentucky vs. University of Alabama basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Photo by David Perry | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats guard Darius Miller (1) hit this "three" in the first half of the University of Kentucky vs. University of Alabama basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Photo by David Perry | Staff HERALD-LEADER

Kentucky's 77-71 victory Saturday proved again that winning time means Miller time.

Senior Darius Miller made four of four free throws inside the final 54.7 seconds to help beat Alabama. That improved his accuracy from the foul line in the final three minutes of games this season to 6-for-6.

"I like the fact that he held the ball to get fouled," said UK Coach John Calipari, meaning Miller wanted the responsibility of making the key free throws.

Calipari also noted how UK's key ball handler, point guard Marquis Teague, who heretofore had missed his only attempt inside the final three minutes, made two free throws with 24 seconds left.

Miller made five of six free throws Saturday, which improved his accuracy this season to 75.6 percent. That's relatively poor for the senior from Maysville. He led the Cats in free-throw accuracy the last two seasons: 79.5 percent in 2009-10 and 85.3 percent last season. He's a career 80.9 percent free-throw shooter.

"Very clutch player," teammate Doron Lamb said of Miller.

Added Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: "He is everything. He is (one of) the only seniors on this team, and he means a lot."

'Not bad'

Calipari began to suggest that foul trouble made Kidd-Gilchrist a non-factor. Then the UK coach caught himself.

"Anthony (Davis) was not himself," Calipari said. "Neither was Michael. Again, foul trouble."

Two fouls inside the first 10 minutes limited Kidd-Gilchrist to 23 minutes, his fewest since playing 22 against St. John's on Dec. 1.

"Michael made big plays, though," Calipari said. "Diving on the floor, and came up with some balls that made a difference in the game."

When asked whether fear of fouls inhibited Kidd-Gilchrist, Calipari quipped, "He fouled out (with 1:06 left), so it must not have been the fear of foul trouble. ...

"But here he is: 13 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes. Not bad."

Beaten in paint

Alabama outscored UK in the paint 30-28. The Tide became the second opponent in the last four games (and third in the last seven) to outscore the Cats in the paint.

The Tide also became the third opponent in five SEC games to outrebound Kentucky (35-31).

"It was a very physical game, and we didn't (respond adequately)," Calipari said. "Especially at the start. We weren't able to play through the physical play."

Alabama power forward JaMychal Green noted how the Tide emphasized physical play and rebounding.

"We knew we had to be physical because they're athletic and long," he said.47 straight

UK won its 47th straight home game, the longest such active streak in the nation.

Duke's loss to Florida State Saturday moved Ohio State into second place with 36 straight home victories.

Davis dismissed the notion that a tight game against Alabama heightened UK players' concern about extending the streak.

"If your mind is off the game, you'll make huge mistakes," he said.


Gerald Boudreaux, the SEC's supervisor of officials, attended the game.

Earlier in the week, Calipari said his concern about block/charge calls might lead him to call Boudreaux. But the UK coach did not make such a call. He did speak with John Adams, the national supervisor of officials.

Boudreaux said he does not want to talk to coaches about judgment calls such as the block/charge.

When asked about Calipari's suggestion that the block/charge arc be moved farther from the basket to reduce charging calls, Boudreaux said he would defer to the NCAA Rules Committee.

Boudreaux noted that SEC officials review every game from tipoff to final buzzer with its referees.

"We have accountability," he said.


■ Six UK players scored double-digit points. That hadn't happened since Feb. 19, 2005 when Chuck Hayes (17), Kelenna Azubuike (15), Patrick Sparks (14), Rajon Rondo (11), Ravi Moss (10) and Ramel Bradley (10) reached double digits in a 94-78 victory over Mississippi State.

■ Davis blocked four shots to increase his season total to 93. Only seven SEC players have blocked 100 or more shots. Jarvis Varnado of Mississippi State holds the record of 170, doing it in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

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