Kentucky Coach John Calipari advised his players last week to substitute themselves into a game. Supposedly, peer pressure can spur greater effort.
However, Calipari appeared to make all the decisions about substitutions in UK's 58-38 victory over Providence on Sunday. Just as he and other coaches have ... forever.
Willie Cauley-Stein, who played a team-high 25 minutes, clarified.
"It's more of a mutual understanding," he said. "You kind of give an eye contact like, 'Aaah, should I go get him?' Then (Calipari) kind of gives you the nod. And then you go" to the scorer's table.
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"I don't think you ever just get up and go."
Point guard Andrew Harrison warmed to the idea immediately when asked about players substituting themselves into games.
"He wouldn't want me to do that," he said with a smile. "I just need a sip of water, and I'm ready" to return to a game.
"That's a big responsibility. I don't know that we're there yet. But, hopefully, we can get there by the end of the year."
Tyler Ulis blocked his first shot. This brought a smile to Alex Poythress's face.
"Now, what's he averaging? Like, 0.1 blocks per game?" Poythress teased. "Or something like that."
To be precise, Ulis increased his average on blocks to 0.14.
Calipari found do-better material in Poythress (one) and Trey Lyles (two) combining for three offensive rebounds.
"I want them to have three a half," Calipari said. "So you have six offensive rebounds between you two. ... You're 6-10 (Lyles) and you're 6-8 (Poythress) and you put your head on the rim. Every shot that's taken, you don't have to go back. Go rebound."
Poythress accepted that critique.
"It's realistic," he said. "We can have more really. Attacking the glass is what we do. Teams are blocking out Willie and Dakari (Johnson). ... They kind of forget about us."
Cauley-Stein defended Providence's top scorer, LaDontae Henton, much of the game. Henton made only one of eight shots, finishing with three inconsequential points.
When asked if he knew Henton came into the game averaging 24.3 points, Cauley-Stein said, "Uh, I was told he averaged 28, 30 points. I did know that.
"They also said that of Perry Ellis, too."
Ellis, the hub of Kansas' offense, made one of six shots against Kentucky.
Does Calipari exaggerate an opponent's effectiveness to inspire better defense? "I think so," Cauley-Stein said.
History, Part VII
Kentucky's knack for making history seemingly every game continued.
The 38 points marked the fewest Providence has scored in a game since a 59-38 loss to Georgetown on Feb. 18, 1984. That's the Georgetown team of Patrick Ewing and Michael Graham that would limit Kentucky to three-for-33 shooting in the second half of a national semifinal game.
In the second half Sunday, Providence made four of 24 shots (16.7 percent) and scored 16 points. That marked the seventh time this season a UK opponent has scored fewer than 20 points in a half. That's seven of 14 halves.
The most points scored against Kentucky in a half so far was the 38 by Buffalo in the first half.
Texas is next
Kentucky's next game, which is Friday against Texas, has a down-home flavor for Andrew and Aaron Harrison. Of course, UK's twins grew up in Richmond, Texas.
"I know a couple guys on the (Texas) team," Andrew Harrison said. "A couple guys actually played in my district when I was coming up in high school.
"I'm looking forward (to the game). I know they're a great team with great size like us. We're going to have to play our best game to beat them."
With two minutes to go, Kentucky's 20-point lead apparently still wasn't a comfortable enough margin for one fan near courtside. The fan protested a call that went in Providence's favor.
To which referee Michael Roberts told the fan, "You don't get every call, sir. Sorry."