Miller’s career-high leads UK to win over Florida (w/ video)



After hitting a 3-pointer to give UK an 11-point lead and seal a win that would be classified as “huge” by his head coach, Darius Miller stuck his tongue out as he ran the floor. He knew the importance of that shot.

“Honestly I can’t remember (that),” Miller said of the celebration. “I don’t remember what I did during the course of the game.”

He, and everyone else, did know this: Miller scored a career-high 24 points in leading UK (20-8, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) to a 76-68 win over No. 13 Florida (22-6, 11-3 SEC).

Suddenly, Miller is shedding his reputation as an inconsistent and irritating player. He’s averaging 18 points and 5.5 rebounds over the last four games. His personal record broke the one he set exactly a week before, with 22 points against South Carolina.

“He played out of his mind again,” Josh Harrellson said.

After the game, Harrellson wrapped up Miller and shook him before they went to shake Florida’s hands. He got a group hug from his teammates. The only place Miller wasn’t the immediate center of attention was the television interview — Miller had to wait for CBS to talk to John Calipari first about his 500th career win, including the vacated wins at the Universities of Massachusetts and Memphis.

To get that 500th — although he said this one win was his focus because of its importance — Calipari challenged Miller before the game to elevate his play. He pointed at Miller’s subpar, nine-point performance against Florida the first time the teams met as something that needed change for the result to change, too.

“I definitely was thinking about it throughout the week,” Miller said of being outplayed by Chandler Parsons the first meeting.

Miller got the better of Parsons this time, and UK kept Parsons off the boards. The leading rebounder for Florida, the 6-foot-9 forward had grabbed a few key offensive rebounds the first meeting, which Terrence Jones cited as their main focus. This time, he didn’t.

“When Chandler has one offensive rebound, that’s a big day for us,” Calipari said.

Florida entered the game ranked eighth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 38.9 percent. Against UK, Florida got just 32.4 percent, and only got one second-chance point. Josh Harrellson led the way, with 12 rebounds — six of which came on the offensive end — and Terrence Jones added nine.

“Josh had 12 rebounds, how about him,” Calipari said. “I mean, he just went after every ball.”

That doubled for Miller, who showed a tenacity and willingness to fling himself into battles on the boards. Overall, it was a step for Miller to string together good performances.

“He’s just believing in himself, and just having that confidence that he can play with the best of them,” Brandon Knight said. “He showed that tonight.”


Calipari on rebounding, Miller’s play, and extra effort:

Calipari part 2, on Doron Lamb and victory No. 500: