Patterson shines in road wins


Junior forward Patrick Patterson fights for the ball in the second half of UK’s 58-56 win over Vandy at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville on Saturday, Feb. 20. 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

Times have changed for UK junior forward Patrick Patterson.

After his play went under scrutiny last month, Patterson has emerged in clutch situations for the Cats and has helped lead UK to a pair of road victories over Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

One month ago, Patterson was held scoreless in the second half of a 31-point home-blowout victory over Arkansas. The next game, the Cats’ first loss, he was again held scoreless in the second half and had a season low five points.

The struggles for Patterson led him to respond on his Facebook page to some fans’ criticism of his play.

His struggles prompted UK head coach John Calipari to work out with him on a one-on-one basis before and after practice to address specific things.

Over the last week, Patterson’s clutch shots have lifted the Cats in the waning minutes and kept their one-loss record intact.

“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Calipari said. “He hit the shot against Mississippi State, he hit free throws, there was another game we played earlier where we threw it to him on an out-of-bounds play and he made a jump hook. He’s probably made 10 huge shots all year.”

One of those shots came with 3:55 remaining in Saturday’s road game against Vanderbilt. In a game where both teams struggled from beyond the 3-point arc, Patterson got the ball in the corner and without hesitating drilled the first 3-pointer of the half for either team. The 3-pointer gave the Cats a three-point lead and an added boost down the stretch.

“It looked good, felt good, and it went in,” Patterson said. “I looked at my teammates and they’re all holding threes up, crowd was going crazy. It was just a lucky shot that went in.”

While Patterson called the shot “luck,” he’s hit nine 3-pointers in the seven games following UK’s first loss, and has recorded double-doubles in each of the Cats’ last two games, both in hostile environments.

“Patrick Patterson was one of his toughest games he’s played all year rebounding the ball and doing his thing,” said Calipari following UK’s game at Memorial Gym against Vanderbilt.

Calipari has praised Patterson about his unselfishness on the basketball court and despite starring for the Cats in his first two years on campus, he’s fine with his younger teammates getting so much praise. Now, with March just around the corner, Calipari is asking Patterson to do more for the inexperienced Cats.

“In other words, score 25 (points) and get 15 rebounds a game. Just go, you have my blessing. Shoot the ball. Go grab it in the post. Go grab 25 and 15, I don’t care. Do more,” Calipari said. “He defers because he’s fine with those other guys … I want him to do more. And he’s capable.”

Though Patterson is looked at as a veteran on the team, he has never played an NCAA Tournament game after being injured for the Big Dance his freshman season, and the Cats not being invited last season.

Still, the 6-foot-9 forward from Huntington, W.V., has been adored by Big Blue Nation from the first day he stepped foot on campus, and ranks 20th on UK’s all-time scoring list with 86 games under his belt.

“He is (starting to do more),” Calipari said. “And it’s coming at a good time for us.”