VAUGHT: Coury likes being tough

When Billy Gillispie told sophomore Mark Coury that he wanted him to be the toughest player in the Southeastern Conference, it made Coury smile. He knows he's not the biggest or most talented player even at Kentucky. But he also knows he can do things to be productive in Gillispie's offense.

"I played football in high school and obviously that added to my toughness. I am not trying to do anything dirty. I am just trying to be physical and wear people out and be as aggressive as I can," Coury said. "Obviously people might get angry if I am knocking them around. But it doesn't phase me. I am just going at it 100 percent every time."

That's what Kentucky needs, too.

"I am just trying to do what Coach tells me to do and contribute any way that I can to the team. Hopefully I will have fun in the process," Coury said.

He was a tight end-defensive end-punter on his high school football team. He says he could kick "a long way" and that he had "good hands" when it came to catching the ball. Yet he never had any desire to be a college football player. Basketball was always his priority.

"My first choice for college was always basketball. I like being here to play basketball," Coury said.

Coury doesn't worry about how he'll match up with bigger, stronger opponents.

"I just have to get at them early and try to wear them down so that as the game goes on, it is harder and harder for them to get into a comfortable spot. Whatever I can do to get into their heads, I have to do it," Coury said. "I don't do any talking (on the court). I just try to play the game and wear them down physically. I should be exhausted when a game is over if I have physically been trying to knock the other guy around."

How can you not love that attitude? Or love watching him play?

"Being tough and getting rebounds are things I have to do. Playing hard defense. That's what I have to concentrate on because Coach wants me to do. That is what he wants," Coury said. "I think I have always been tough down low and played good defense down low. I just have to block out, get rebounds, knock people around and play hard. If I do that, then I think Coach will be happy." He will, and so will UK fans.

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