Polson played his way into playing time

Jarrod Polson played three minutes in UK’s win against South Carolina.

They weren’t scrub minutes at the end of the second half. They were first-half minutes.

UK was leading by nine points when Polson entered with 9:44 to play. He stayed on the floor for 44 seconds. He checked in again at the 5:45 mark in the first half and played 2 minutes and 11 seconds.

His playing time came after head coach John Calipari saw Polson playing harder and better than the rest of the reserves in 1-on-1 drills in practice.

“He plays physical in practice with our players,” Calipari said. “I wanted to give him a chance. Why doesn’t he deserve a chance.”

Polson didn’t record any points, but he did attempt a layup on a fast break. He missed, but that was beside the point.

“I thought that was the greatest thing ever,” Calipari said. “Like, ‘I belong out here.”

For Polson, it must be a welcome sight. He said a week ago that he was tired of all the fans yelling at him to shoot every time he got in at the end of games, a cheer typically reserved for the players regarded as mop-up role players. Polson is a scholarship player who wants to play.

Calipari said he was comfortable playing Polson because he plays hard and “doesn’t make mistakes.” True enough, Polson didn’t make any turnovers.

“We had Jarrod step in, play a lot of quality minutes,” Darius Miller said. “Didn’t make any mistakes, guarded his man.”

Pregame mentality

Calipari was a little intrigued at how his team approached the South Carolina game, considering UK had dropped its first two road games in the conference.

“The thing I got on them (Friday) was you don’t have the fire, the passion,” Calipari said. “This is a practice getting ready for a road game and we just lost. You don’t think South Carolina is down there going crazy getting ready for this game? Normally when I would say that to my team, one of the members of my team would say ‘Cal, we got this. Just relax.’ This team didn’t say that. But this team looked ready in shootaround.”

Calipari and Waffle House

Calipari said he had a good sense that his team was ready to play before the South Carolina game.

“Just had that feeling. Had a nice lunch at Waffle House. That’s usually a good sign,” Calipari said.