The fortunes of basketball changed dramatically for Kentucky freshman Tyler Ulis Tuesday night. The hero in UK's victory at Louisville became the player Ole Miss attacked.
Ulis did not play in overtime as Kentucky outlasted the Rebels 89-86.
"We were trying to attack him because that was the one player that we had a size advantage (against)," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. "And also because he's young. ... We were trying to attack Ulis because of size, but probably more the main thing is because of the fact he is a freshman."
When Ulis was on the floor in the first half, Ole Miss outscored Kentucky 27-10.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Midway through the half, Stefan Moody twice hit three-pointers over Ulis in a 40-second span that gave the Rebels their first lead at 27-26 and later a 30-26 advantage.
"I'm the one that switched Tyler on (Moody)," UK Coach John Calipari said. "And my staff said, (Moody) does well against littler guys because he jumps over them.
"And what did he do? Basket-basket-foul. And I looked at my staff and I said, that's my fault, not his. Because usually Tyler, against a smaller guy, has a big advantage. Well, he didn't in this game."
Actually, Moody is listed at 5-foot-10, which is only one inch taller than Ulis.
Moody came into the game as the nation's ninth-best free-throw shooter. He had made 47 of 51, then went 4-for-4 against UK.
But he had to go to the bench with 4:09 left in overtime after being fouled on a three-point shot because of cramps. He could not shoot the free throws. By rule, Calipari could pick the player to shoot the free throws.
It seemed Calipari picked M.J. Rhett, a 68.4-percent free thrower, to take the foul shots. Rhett made one of three to put the Rebels ahead 80-79.
"I won't give (Calipari) credit," Kennedy said lightheartedly. "Because I know he doesn't know the percentages. But somebody over there picked the right guy. M.J. Rhett goes one for three. That's a huge wing, and Moody can't re-enter the game because of the cramps."
Calipari did not take credit for picking Rhett.
"I didn't," he said. "My staff did. I didn't even know. What I said was, 'Why is he shooting?'"
Calipari likened his lack of awareness to his claim of not knowing the score in UK's dominating first half against UCLA.
Ole Miss began SEC play on the road for the 13th time in the last 17 seasons.
In that same time, Kentucky has begun SEC play at home 12 times.
Ole Miss said that nine of its 13 scholarship players had a 3.0 GPA or better in the fall semester. The Rebels had a record team GPA.
Kentucky posted a team GPA of 3,129 in the fall semester. Thirteen of its 16 players had a 3.0 or better.
UK has talent
When asked the last time he saw a team as talented as Kentucky, Kennedy said, "the last time I was at Kentucky."
After noting UK's many standout players (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, etc.), Kennedy said, "Cal has had some talented dudes. Holy moly.
"I'd just like to have half of one of those guys."
Ole Miss has beaten Calipari four times in his coaching career. That's more defeats than against all but nine teams.
The school that has beaten Calipari most? George Washington: nine times in 17 games.
Kennedy is the winningest coach in Ole Miss history at 180-105. ... Calipari's record in Rupp Arena as UK coach improved to 94-4.