Bloomington, Ind. – Billy Gillispie tried to do something after Indiana's 70-51 win that his team couldn't do during the contest.
Have a little fun at Indiana's expense.
"I'm really happy they got a media room this time - it's about time," Gillispie said, jokingly, to start his post-game press conference. "The last time we were here, you had to do it outside the locker room. So I commend the University of Indiana for getting a media room."
Gillispie's last trip to town would have been in 2002 when he was an assistant coach to Bill Self at Illinois. His two-year stint on the Illini staff might have left a bad taste in his mouth about IU's media arrangement for visiting coaches, but it wasn't nearly as unpalatable as his Kentucky team's performance Saturday.
Going up against an Indiana team that was not only minus starting guards Eric Gordon and Armon Bassett but without D.J. White for a good portion of the first half with foul trouble, Gillispie's Wildcats were dismantled by Coach Kelvin Sampson's Hoosier squad.
To Gillispie's credit, he confessed as much.
"They whipped us in every aspect and did it with a short-handed team, and we don't take very well to that," Gillispie said.
The Hoosiers thought their backcourt situation was going to improve with the return of Jordan Crawford from a three-game suspension. But Gordon's injury, Bassett's indefinite suspension and A.J. Ratliff's continued absence left IU with only two available guards who are in the regular rotation – Jamarcus Ellis and Jordan Crawford.
As a result, Indiana abandoned the three-guard staring lineup for the first time this season, instead going with D.J. White, Mike White and Lance Stemler up front. After Jamarcus Ellis fouled out with 4:49 remaining IU actually had four big men on the floor 6-8, 300-pound DeAndre Thomas joining the three starters up front.
It's a grouping that might have been productive, but not one that Sampson envisions utilizing again anytime soon.
"Better enjoy it – it will never happen again," Sampson said.
D.J. White not only recorded his fifth consecutive double-double, but he also became the 41st player in IU history to score 1,000 points. White reached the milestone with a pair of free throws at the 11:07mark of the second half and now has 1,006 career points.
"It means a lot," White said. "A lot of great players come through this program. To be in that club means a lot to me."
While Indiana was missing Gordon and Bassett, Kentucky was dealing with its own injury problems in the backcourt.
Sophomore guard Derrick Jasper – who started 27 games a year ago – has been out since June after undergoing microfracture knee surgery. That's the same surgery that is expected to sideline Portland Trail Blazer Greg Oden for the entire season. The Wildcats were then dealt another blow in early November when starting guard Jodie Meeks was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the pelvic region and he's now missed five straight games.
"Billy's team, when they get Meeks and Jasper back, they're going to be a lot better," Sampson said. "They only had two guards tonight, we only had two guards. I think both teams will improve a lot as the season goes along."
Game day didn't prove to be the remedy that Eric Gordon needed to be ready to play.
Sampson said that the Hoosier freshman told him last Monday that he'd be ready to go by the time the Kentucky game arrived. But that optimism turned to pessimism as the week wore on, and it was clear after Thursday's practice that Gordon was doubtful at best.
But, Sampson said, there was still hope.
"Game day, they can be a little bit like Lazarus," Sampson said. "I've seen some on game day rise from the dead. They couldn't move, they couldn't do this, so you hold out hope."
While Sampson was hoping, he wasn't going to play him if he wasn't healthy.
"If Eric doesn't play this game and we lose it, okay, we lost the game," Sampson said. "But I'm not going to play him just to play him."
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