Dominique Hawkins and, perhaps more importantly, Kentucky Coach John Calipari do not share the fans' concern with passing up shooting opportunities.
An audible murmur could be heard more than once when Hawkins did not take open shots against Mississippi State on Wednesday. On one occasion, a fan could be heard shouting "Shoot!" as Hawkins held the ball near the three-point line.
"I can definitely hear it," a smiling Hawkins said Thursday in his typically agreeable tone of voice. "I just ignore it because I know Coach Cal wants me to run the offensive plays."
Calipari casually brushed off a question about whether Hawkins should follow the fans' advice.
"He's a good enough shooter," Calipari said, "but he knows that's not his deal."
Hawkins' deal is to provide a spark off the bench, to pressure the opposition's primary ball handler and to adhere to a point guard's pass-first mentality.
Calipari acknowledged that Hawkins needs to work on his shooting. He's made two of 13 three-point shots, and eight of 26 overall.
"I'm not even worried," Calipari said. "You keep that energy, keep defending."
As a star for Madison Central High School, Hawkins needed no encouragement to shoot. His teammates encouraged him to shoot, he said.
When asked about fans' imploring Hawkins to shoot, Willie Cauley-Stein said, "I was probably one of them yelling to shoot it."
But Hawkins cited a big-picture reason for not launching against State.
"We were trying to get it inside," he said. "Because we took too many threes in the beginning."
Dakari Johnson and Cauley-Stein combined for 20 points against Mississippi State.
Johnson, who had three points in the previous six games, made all four of his shots in an eight-point performance. His production helped UK return to its low-post identity after a first half spent shooting and mostly missing three-pointers (2-for-14).
"Dakari sat down, made himself big and he yelled for the ball," Calipari said in lauding Johnson.
But, Johnson (0-for-2) and Cauley-Stein (2-for-5) did not shoot free throws well. Going into the Vanderbilt game, they've combined to make only 31 of 67 free throws (46.3 percent).
Calipari noted the likelihood of opponents fouling Johnson and/or Cauley-Stein on purpose to try to rally in the final minutes.
"You don't have to make them all," the UK coach said. "You just can't miss them all."
After Julius Randle, UK's leader in double-doubles is — surprise — James Young. He's grabbed 10 rebounds in each of the last two games.
To explain the rebounding, Calipari noted that Young usually defends a perimeter player. That opponent can peel back on defense rather than hit the offensive glass.
"He gets a free run at the ball," Calipari said of Young.
Vandy dismissed guard Eric McClellan from the team Friday. McClellan will not be a part of the program in the future, based upon newly discovered information that came to light Wednesday evening, the school said in a release.
On Thursday, Vandy announced McClellan was off the team for the spring semester because of a violation of the school's academic policy.
McClellan led the Commodores in scoring (14.3 ppg) and steals (15). He ranked third in assists (3.2 per game).
Without McClellan, Vandy is down to seven scholarship players.
Point guard Kyle Fuller noted how the potential for added playing time necessitated more attention to fitness, thus a dietary adjustment. "I know I'm going to have to start eating better than I was," he said.
Teammate Rod Odom cautioned against the impulse to overcompensate. "Nobody has to put on a superhero's cape," he said.
■ As the Mississippi State game revealed, Cauley-Stein no longer colors his hair bright yellow. "A new year," he said of the switch to brown. "A new year, a new look. You've got to start the new year right."
■ Kevin Harlan and Greg Anthony will call Saturday's game for CBS.