Sidelines with John Clay

Three more things from Kentucky basketball’s win over Arizona State

Kentucky forward Alex Poythress, center, dunks over Arizona State guard Maurice O'Field in the first half and drew the foul. The University of Kentucky hosted Arizona State University, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Rupp Arena in Lexington .
Kentucky forward Alex Poythress, center, dunks over Arizona State guard Maurice O'Field in the first half and drew the foul. The University of Kentucky hosted Arizona State University, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Rupp Arena in Lexington . Lexington Herald-Leader

In addition to my column, here's three quick takes from Kentucky’s 72-58 win over Arizona State:

1. How about Derrick Willis?

The junior forward went gray last game, dyeing his hair gray. Saturday, he switched it up again, saying he looked too much like Jack Frost, so he cut it all off. Now, Willis has the shaved head look. This year, too, he looks like a different player.

Saturday, Willis contributed an energized 14 minutes, scoring seven points, grabbing three rebounds, blocking a shot and making a steal. He made three of four shots, including a three-pointer from the right corner that rolled around the basket, hit the backboard and fell back through.

It was the fourth time this season that Willis has played double-digit minutes. He’s been a key factor off the bench so far, which not sure everyone would have predicted before the season.

Asked if he feels like now he has pushed through to find a place on this team, Willis said, “I think so.”

Transcript: John Calipari after win over Arizona State

2. Hitting the boards

Arizona State came into Saturday’s game outrebounding its opponents by eight a game and, sure enough, the Sun Devils owned a 22-14 advantage on the glass after the first 20 minutes.

Second half, however, Kentucky turned that completely around. The Cats ended up outrebounding ASU 22-14 so that the teams ended up with 36 rebounds each. UK had 11 offensive rebounds out of 32 possible for the game. In the second half, however, UK had six offensive rebounds compared to just seven defensive rebounds for the visitors.

57.7 percentUK’s field goal percentage in second half after shooting 31 percent the first half

The difference? Halftime, said Marcus Lee, involved “a lot of yelling at the bigs.” Lee ended up with seven rebounds on the game. But the guards were a huge help on the glass. Tyler Ulis had five rebounds for the game. Isaiah Briscoe grabbed four. That helped make up for Skal Labissiere not getting a rebound in his 13 minutes before fouling out.

3. Individual instruction time

It's final exams week for the Cats, who don't play again until Saturday's trip to Brooklyn to play a struggling Ohio State team in the CBS Sports Classic. John Calipari said he would give the team Sunday off, but then it would be back to work Monday, mainly in the form of individual instruction.

Guard Jamal Murray, who led the Cats with 17 points, said he was looking forward to the individual attention. Murray said he felt the team would get a lot better over the next couple of weeks.

In fact, UK plays just three games over the next three weeks -- Ohio State on Saturday, Dec. 19; Louisville on Saturday, Dec. 26 and Ole Miss on Saturday, Jan. 2.

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