UK gears up for LSU



Notes and quotes from Friday’s media session previewing UK’s road game at LSU on Saturday:

  • John Calipari barked like a dog. This is a true story.
  • The most interesting subplot to this game is LSU guard Anthony Hickey, who was last year’s Kentucky Mr. Basketball but wasn’t recruited by UK. Marquis Teague expects him to come out and play with a “chip on his shoulder,” because “who wouldn’t want to go play against the team that didn’t recruit him and play well?” Calipari agreed that Hickey might come out with a little motivation. “And he should be. He’s going to go out and prove himself.” However, Hickey brushed off the snub and said he won’t be playing with any extra intensity.
  • Calipari said Hickey — who’s averaging 10 points per game with a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio — was good enough to play at UK. It’s just that he went with Marquis Teague, instead. Calipari said it wouldn’t have been fair to bring both to UK.
  • Hickey and Teague have played each other in the Kentucky-Indiana high school all-star games. In two matchups, Teague had 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Hickey had 25 points, 14 assists and eight steals.
  • Teague discussed in detail the improvements he’s made throughout the season. He said early in the year, he was “over thinking” things on the court. “I’ve always been a natural player, going off reactions and natural ability,” Teague said. “I was worrying about things I shouldn’t have been.”
  • His early struggles with turnovers created some doubts as he wondered if he would ever truly grasp how to play the point guard position the way Calipari wanted him to. “It plays with your head a lot more than people think it would,” Teague said. “You have to be tough-minded and keep working to get yourself out of it.”
  • Now, Teague said he’s back to playing instinctively. He’s had three or fewer turnovers in six of the past seven games, and Calipari’s prodding to get better — which used to be after every game — has decreased. “I’m a lot more comfortable,” Teague said. “I’m not always looking over my shoulder.”
  • He is looking around him on the floor, however, and Teague’s directing the offense has helped six players average 10 or more points per game. It’s incredible balance that I touched on in my column last night, and Teague is a central part of it. “On a team like this, you don’t have to score as many points. I’ve just tried to get everyone else involved, create and control the tempo.”
  • However, that balance makes it harder to make the extra pass, Calipari said. When you’re getting 8-12 shots per game, it’s harder to pass up shots because they are relatively scarce.
  • Darius Miller said his 19-point game against Georgia wasn’t necessarily a turn-the-corner moment. “That’s just one game,” Miller said. “We feel we have a lot of weapons, so it could be somebody else’s game tomorrow. I’m just trying to get better, personally, every game.”
  • Because LSU plays a similar style to Georgia, UK didn’t have to prepare as much as normal. “The good news for preparation is they play a lot like Georgia,” Calipari said. “A lot of the stuff when we go over it, we will have seen it. That’s why yesterday I didn’t use any time in our practice (for walkthroughs).”
  • Calipari said he added some new wrinkles to UK’s offensive sets to “spice things up” for the players. “It kind of got them off-kilter,” Calipari said. “It made them think. You get used to coming into this practice and just going through the (motions). Now all of a sudden, what? Something new? I got to what?’”

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