Miller guides the way in UK win over Old Dominion



It was the end of a week-long road trip, with a second consecutive noon tip-off, for a young team.

So it isn’t surprising that UK and Old Dominion played a slow, sloppy, sluggish game.

But that was still pretty ugly, for both teams. Watching the game on, I was halfway happy my internet connection sucked to the point where it looked like I was watching a blurry game of NBA Jam on the N64.

Old Dominion threw a 3-2 defense at UK, a zone the Cats hadn’t seen before and had less than a day to prepare for. UK shot under 50 percent for the first time this season. It committed 21 turnovers against only 10 assists.

At the risk of sounding too smart, that’s not a good ratio.

Old Dominion grabbed 11 out of a possible 41 offensive rebounds.

While UK made strides in both of those areas in the second half, it continues to be the two biggest problems for UK. Teams will play physical until the Cats — especially the slender Anthony Davis, who fouled out of the game after 11 points and nine rebounds, and Kyle Wiltjer, who only played 11 minutes, proving that he’s not quite trusted by Calipari in close games — show they can play physical back.

It wasn’t just the play that was lackluster. The game stalled in the second half after consecutive possessions with technical fouls. With that, the officials clamped down. At one point, the teams shot 13 free throws in a 1:10 stretch.

And yet UK got a 10-point win in its toughest test yet.

And it was senior Darius Miller who showed up to guide the team. Experienced veterans do have their place on a UK team, after all.

Miller was the only player who had a full good game. He didn’t fill up the stat box, finishing with 13 points and five assists, but he stabilized UK in the first half when balls were going everywhere but in the basket.

After the game, head coach John Calipari said UK would have lost by 10 or 12 points without Miller.

He won’t be the difference in every game. Just a day earlier, Miller had scored zero points in a blowout against Penn State. His tendency to recede into the background and cede center stage to the stars can be amplified on this team, when he’s the sixth man (so far, at least) and doesn’t have to assert himself.

He proved, though, that he can assume control when he and his team needs to. Miller had no problem attacking the defense on his own throughout the game.

Which speaks, again, to what Calipari has said before: It won’t be the same person rising to the occasion game in and game out. It can be anyone.

UK, gladly, gets the chance to rest at home before it sees who is next to step up.