John Clay

John Clay: Three observations as Kentucky prepares for Texas

Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) hit a three pointer over Kansas Jayhawks guard Frank Mason III (0) as #1 Kentucky played #5 Kansas on Tuesday November 18, 2014  in Indianapolis, IN. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) hit a three pointer over Kansas Jayhawks guard Frank Mason III (0) as #1 Kentucky played #5 Kansas on Tuesday November 18, 2014 in Indianapolis, IN. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

Three things from Thursday afternoon’s Kentucky basketball media opportunity previewing Friday night’s game against Texas.

1. The John Calipari-Rick Barnes lovefest

During a teleconference Wednesday, Texas Coach Rick Barnes went on and on with compliments about his good buddy, Kentucky Coach John Calipari. On Thursday, Calipari returned the favor by calling Barnes a “true friend” and saying Barnes was one of the coaches in the business he could call to talk basketball.

Both are great recruiters, but what doesn’t get as much (or enough) attention is the way their teams play defense. Kentucky leads the nation in field goal percentage defense at 27.9. Louisville is second at 30.3. Texas is third at 30.8 percent. Don’t expect a high-scoring game Friday night in Rupp Arena.

2. Aaron Harrison’s shooting

The two players made available for media interviews were the Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew. The latter talked about needing to get the team off to a better start, and the challenge of Texas’ size on Friday.

Aaron was asked about his shooting, which has not been good. As a freshman, Aaron was an NCAA Tournament hero for hitting clutch shot after clutch shot at the end of games. As a sophomore this year, he has struggled, making just eight of 32 three-pointers through the first seven games.

“I think they’ll start falling because they’re feeling good,” Aaron said of his shots. “Being a shooter, if they’re feeling good, you’ve got to keep shooting and they’ll fall eventually. I’ve been working on it a lot, and I think it’ll change.”

“I’m not worried about it,” Calipari said of Aaron’s shooting.

3. No monkeying with the platoons

Calipari said he did fiddle with changing the platoons but “didn’t like the way it looked,” he said, so he’s sticking with the same two lineups.

In the 58-38 win over Providence on Sunday, Calipari got away from the platoons a bit, especially in the second half. It proved that the coach will be flexible. He’s not afraid of some in-game alterations if that’s what is needed to get the job done.

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