Stevenson taking advantage of opportunities

LEXINGTON – Perry Stevenson is taking advantage of his opportunities.

Editor's Note: this article was written prior to the Kentucky upset win over # 3 Tennessee. In that game, Stevenson scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots in 37 minutes of action to key the victory.

Stevenson, known for his shot-blocking abilities, has been contributing some big minutes off the bench and giving the Wildcats a lift off the bench.

"That's what we practice for, to take advantage of the opportunity," Stevenson said.

During Kentucky's 79-73 upset over Vanderbilt last Saturday, Stevenson had a career-high five steals and collected three rebounds. Although Stevenson didn't enter the scoring column, his contributions on the defensive end have been instrumental.

Stevenson said he "surprised" himself on the defensive end, but said the five steals were the result of hard work.

"That's what happens when you try and go hard all of the time," he said. "If you practice hard, it's something that will show up in the games."

Stevenson said the win over the Commodores proved that the team is "a lot better than 7-7," but said Kentucky is still a team in progress. "If we play hard, we'll be all right," he said.

In a 69-64 loss at Mississippi State Tuesday night in Starkville, Stevenson's line was perhaps his best output of the season.

Stevenson scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field. The sophomore center grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots. As for his contributions, Stevenson said his approach is to give the team a lift off the bench.

"I try to (step up) every game, but it doesn't always happen," he said. "Who knows why, but I'm just playing hard and working hard in practice, so it can happen in every game."

Stevenson said he's take a blue-collar approach to his game. Playing with "pride" and "not letting the team down" helps keep Stevenson motivated.

"I'm just trying to play hard and hustle every time," he said. "Even though you get screened, the play is not over. You just have to continue to work hard. I just try to do that." Stevenson said the team's main focus is rebounding.

"Coach tells us if we can outrebound a team, we'll have a good chance of winning. We just try to do that."

As for the team's practice schedule, Stevenson has adjusted to Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie's style.

"It should be understood that you should play hard all of the time, but the fatigue factor comes in, which is why we have such tough practices," he said. "It kind of helps to get over that."

Despite the loss at Mississippi State, Stevenson said the team is "definitely" starting to come together.

"That's only way you can get wins, being a team and playing hard," he said. "It's coming together."

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