[VIDEO] Cats prepare for Bulldogs

LOUISVILLE – No more chandeliers, no more cracks in the floor, no more hotel basketball in Cancun, Mexico. The Cats (6-0) still aren’t home in Lexington, but they’re back in the Bluegrass in front of their loving fans.

Freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins goes for a layup in UK's 92-63 win over Rider on Nov. 21. Staff file photo

Freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins goes for a layup in UK's 92-63 win over Rider on Nov. 21. Staff file photo

The Cats held an open practice on Sunday on rival Louisville’s home court in Freedom Hall. The middle of the court still had the Cardinals logo and the Louisville banners hung from the ceilings, but UK fans were cheering on their Cats an hour before practice even began.

“It was great,” senior guard Ramon Harris said. “It was definitely great to be able to put a smile on a kid’s face just by signing a piece of paper or signing a t-shirt.”

UK will play UNC Asheville (0-5) on Monday night in their annual game in Freedom Hall. The Cats are off to their best start since 2004 and had some fun with the Big Blue Nation before their seventh game of the season.

UK head coach John Calipari told the crowd before practice he wouldn’t be against the idea of having more than one game at Freedom Hall in the future. Calipari said the Cats have only sold about 13,000 or 14,000 tickets for the UNC Asheville game so far though, and for the Cats to have more than one game in one season at the arena, they would have to know they’re getting sellouts.

“In Rupp we know we’re going to have 24,000 and there’s a lot of money involved in this,” Calipari said. “So if you come here and you don’t (have a sellout) there’s no way. And the powers that be are going to say, ‘No, we’re not doing it,’ and you know what, I don’t blame them.”

A few of the players wanted to have a little fun on their rival’s court’s expense. After being asked by a fan to stomp on the Cardinals logo at the center of the court, junior forward Patrick Patterson ran over and did just that. After Patterson, fellow junior forward Josh Harrellson and freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins got on each sideline and ran to the center to stomp on the logo together. They said it was just out of fun, but Patterson said he’s not worried about the repercussions.

“If it does (serve as bulletin board material for Louisville) it does,” Patterson said. “That’s entirely on them.”

After signing autographs for about 30 minutes, the Cats went through shooting drills with breaks in between from four kids in the stands who shot against some of the players. UK then broke into two teams of five with freshman forward Daniel Orton and sophomore guard DeAndre Liggins not making the trip due to class on Monday. The Blue team, consisting of DeMarcus Cousins, Mark Krebs, Darnell Dodson, Perry Stevenson and Harris, dominated the contest, winning all four 3-point challenges.

UK’s game on Monday with the Bulldogs is against a team that was beaten by Tennessee by 75 points on Nov. 17. UK will also face a tough stretch of games following their match against the Bulldogs on Monday night. They’ll go up against No. 11 North Carolina and No. 13 Connecticut in that span. Still, freshman guard John Wall said they’re not worried about the Bulldogs’ struggles thus far this season or the games in the future, but instead are just trying to improve.

“We’re going out there and playing just like it’s any other game,” Wall said. “We’re not looking at what the score’s going to be, we’re just going out there and playing and working on our defense, our offense and just trying to get everything down pat from this week in practice.”