Basketball Notebook

"I had DeAndre Liggins last year and put him on whoever I thought would hurt us," Calipari said. "We did it last year and it was really effective. Michael is even bigger and longer." And a much better offensive player already than Liggins.

Here's a look back at a few leftover tidbits from Kentucky's win over Kansas in New York Tuesday as the Cats prepare to play weekend games in Connecticut.

— Perhaps the most important part of Tuesday's win was the way freshman point guard Marquis Teague played the second half after a horrible first half (0-for-3 from the field, 0 assists, 6 turnovers).?He came back to get three assists in 17 minutes the second half and went 4-for-6 from the field. He had 11 of his 12 points in the second half and is his only mistake probably was talking a little too much to Kansas players. But it impressed me that after having perhaps the worst half a John Calipari point guard has had at Kentucky, Teague came back with a superb second half.

"As Teague goes, so will go Kentucky. He's that important to them," ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said.

— Here's why players have to like playing for Calipari. Freshman Kyle Wiltjer played just three minutes in the win — and Calipari apologized for that after the game. He said Wiltjer got "out of rotation" by the way the game went but that he "needs to play 15 minutes" per game.

"We got so shaky I wanted others to stay in," Calipari said after the game. "The sad thing is you did not get a chance to see a kid play and he's really skilled."

Calipari was impressed that Wiltjer had no hesitation about going into the game in the final minute with the score out of hand. "He said, ‘Yeah.' A lot of kids would not be interested (in playing that late in the game)," Calipari said.

— Kentucky had a will to win that a national championship contender must have. This was not a polished overall performance by the Cats, but for the second game of the season the effort to win was good and that's something a coach — even Calipari — really can't instill in players. The great teams have it. The good teams do at times, but not always.

"Just a will to win and us trying to step i up and come together and get more stops on defense to lead to fast break points and easy points," Terrence Jones said when asked why UK?played so much better the second half. "Really, it was just stepping up. If you are playing bad, you try to fix it."

Calipari noticed that trait in his team, too. "They had a will to win. That is hardest thing to teach. I?am not going to make the hardest play and I?have the will to win and that is hardest thing for a coach to teach," Calipari said. With what we've seen from this team, I don't think he'll have to teach it. Cal's Cats already have it.

— Kentucky may not have had a stat-stuffer like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

He was 4-for-9 from the field and 3-for-5 at the foul line. He had 12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and one steal in 35 minutes to more than negate his five turnovers. Then throw in his all-out hustle and competitive nature (he was the first to rush to Jones' defense during a short second-half confrontation) and Kidd-Gilchrist is so unique, especially when you add in his ability to guard almost any position on the court.

"I had DeAndre Liggins last year and put him on whoever I thought would hurt us," Calipari said. "We did it last year and it was really effective. Michael is even bigger and longer." And a much better offensive player already than Liggins.


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