VAUGHT: UK poise impresses coaches

Mississippi State assistant coach Phil Cunningham, a Kentucky native, says there's one thing that impresses him about Kentucky more than anything as the Wildcats battle for a Final Four berth.

Mississippi State assistant coach Phil Cunningham, a Kentucky native, says there's one thing that impresses him about Kentucky more than anything as the Wildcats battle for a Final Four berth.

"They are really a poised team," Cunningham said. "They have Chuck Hayes who is very, very poised. Kelenna Azubuike is poised. He doesn't show much emotion either way. Patrick Sparks is almost emotionless. For a freshman, Rajon Rondo is really poised. Randolph Morris hardly shows any emotion at any time. He just plays, which not a lot of freshmen can do without showing a lot of emotion.

"Sometimes people will say that's not enthusiastic enough, but the way they play so hard, you don't have to worry about them not being fired up for a big game. They always play hard no matter who they are playing. I know Tubby (Smith) doesn't want them to depend on emotion to win. I think they are very poised for that reason and that's good in tournament play when you can't just rely on emotion to carry you."

Cunningham says there's no doubt Kentucky is good enough to beat Utah and then either Michigan State or Duke, which eliminated Mississippi State Sunday.

"I think they are very good defensively. Number one, you have to be able to defend people and their team quickness makes them good defensively," Cunningham said.

"Then when you run into the elite teams, you've got to be able to score and they have that firepower. Morris has really come on. He's a much better player lately. When I first started scouting them I thought maybe this guy was not quite what everybody thought. Then he started getting the ball more and he's really become a a load inside with that little jump hook and the way he hits free throws. Then you have Hayes who can beat you so many ways. Sparks can win a game by himself. So can Rondo. They are just good."

Poise. That's a word you have to like at this time of year and more than anything else, that's why I am now a believer that Kentucky is going to the Final Four.


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