'As The Carruth Turns'

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith says he allowed disgruntled freshman guard Rashaad Carruth to take a day off from practice Thursday...

LEXINGTON, Ky. --- "As The Carruth Turns" is a soap opera Kentucky coach Tubby Smith has had his fill of this season.

Smith said Friday that Carruth's failure to play in Wednesday's overtime loss at Tennessee was due to the freshman guard violating curfew the night before in Lexington. It was third time this season Carruth, a McDonald's All-American from College Park, Ga., and the Wildcats' most highly-regarded recruit this past season, has been disciplined for violating team rules.

Earlier this season, Carruth missed an exhibition game due to an undisclosed rule violation, and he played a then-season-low seven minutes against Alabama after oversleeping and missing a class.

"Yesterday, he did not (practice)," Smith said. "I think he needed some time, and I needed some time from him. But he'll be back in practice today.

"That's pretty much where it is, so he'll be on the trip with us, playing, and available to us at LSU (on Saturday)."

Smith said he had a meeting with Carruth Friday morning to discuss the situation. He would not elaborate on the nature of the conversation, but said he expects his player to be "OK" now. Carruth was not available to media Friday afternoon, but was in an upbeat mood leaving the locker room for practice.

Carruth has been outspoken in the media concerning his lack of playing time. To date, he's averaging 13.3 minutes per game, the 10th highest figure on the team. Only fellow freshmen Chuck Hayes and Josh Carrier have played fewer minutes per game among scholarship players.

He is still, however, the team's sixth-leading scorer (6.1 ppg) and best 3-point shooting threat (16 of 40, 40 percent).

Smith maintains statistics will never override team rules or academics. And he's also concerned about the constant speculation about Carruth's status on the team.

"It was (a distraction)," Smith said. "I told him that. We're not going to have another distraction. That's one of the things we discussed.

"We want him to come with an attitude --- that's one of the things I like about him --- but the right attitude. You want a guy to be tough, hard-nosed and aggressive, and I think he has those qualities when they're channelled the right way."

Smith said Carruth has struggled with the adjustment from being a high school superstar to one in a long line of talented players at UK. One of those players, senior captain and All-American Tayshaun Prince, agreed with that assessment.

"His role has changed (from high school)," Prince said. "I knew that when I was a freshman Heshimu (Evans) was a senior, and my time would have to come where I could get it. But I knew my time would come sooner or later. It's about being patient. He's got three more years to do his thing."

Prince added that Carruth's current situation is "hurting the team because we need him on the court."

"Everybody knows the man can play. He can really shoot," Hayes said. "It hurts because we're a family, we're a team, and we need everybody out there, especially Rashaad.

"I think he'll be OK. The good thing about him is he always keeps his sense of humor."

Smith said the entire team must adjust its mindset away from personal goals.

"Everybody wants to play more," he said. "Every guy on that team thinks he should be playing every minute of every game. But then again, we may not have all of the smartest guys, either, if they're thinking that way.

"But they're great kids, and we want them to be hungry to play and eager to play. In Rashaad's case, he would have been playing a lot now. We could have used him in (the Tennessee) game. That was disappointing because he was playing great... he was just finally getting his mobility and his jumping back because he was fully healed (from an ankle injury) after missing six weeks of practice.

"But as I told him, we have standards, we have rules, and he's going to have to abide by them."

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