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March 9, 2012

Notes: MKG keeps family photo close on the road

NEW ORLEANS - At first glance, it's just like any other wedding photo. Family and friends are gathered at an altar. There's a bride and groom, and in the midst of their loved ones, a smiling kid yet to hit his teens.

The kid is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and that isn't any ordinary photo.

Kentucky's freshman forward doesn't leave home without that framed picture. It sits in his locker in Lexington, and it was in his locker at the New Orleans Arena on Friday after the Wildcats' 60-51 Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinal win against LSU.

"I'm a family person," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "That's what it means, really."

Kidd-Gilchrist is nine or 10 years old, he said, in the photo, which was taken at his late uncle's wedding.

Darrin Kidd, the uncle celebrating his wedding in the photo, died last year on the day Kidd-Gilchrist signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Wildcats. Kidd-Gilchrist changed his name last summer, including Kidd's name as a way to honor his uncle.

"That's what I have in my locker all the time," said Kidd-Gilchrist, who said he takes the framed picture on every trip.

"I don't have anything special like that the way that he does," teammate Darius Miller said. "He has it every game, and I can tell that it means a lot to him, just by the way that he brings it every day. He always messes with it before the game. Anything that you would take like that and keep it in your locker before every game, I think it means a lot to him."


Davis contingency plan

Head coach John Calipari had spent time practicing in the last few weeks with forward Anthony Davis just in case the star freshman had to miss time in a crucial game.

He got the chance to see if it had paid off on Friday. Davis was sent to the bench with 7:08 to go in the first half after picking up his second foul and didn't return until after the break. Kentucky was down 18-15 when Davis went to the bench, but took a 25-24 lead into halftime even without Davis' help.

It was just the scenario that Calipari had been preparing his team for.

"This is a good game for us," Calipari said. "They were ready to do some things. And I'll go back and watch the tape and see what adjustments, because people will be watching the tape saying this is how you need to play them and we have been played every way possible."

With Davis out, Calipari went to freshman Kyle Wiltjer and senior Darius Miller while sliding Terrence Jones to center. All seven of Wiltjer's minutes came in the first half.

Davis played the entire second half and didn't pick up another foul the rest of the afternoon. After posting one point, six rebounds and two blocks in the first half, he finished the game with 12 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. Sam Bowie was the last UK player to have a double-double in his first SEC tournament game.

"He makes such a difference for us when he's on the floor, offensively and defensively," Marquis Teague said. "You've got to have him on the floor. You don't want to play without him, he's so great out there."


Bench held scoreless

Friday marked the first time all season Kentucky's bench failed to score in a game.

Of the Wildcats 60 points, 58 came from Kidd-Gilchrist (19), Terrence Jones (15), Anthony Davis and Doron Lamb (12 each). Freshman guard Marquis Teague had just two points.

Miller played 17 minutes, but went 0-2 from the field with three turnovers. Freshman forward Kyle Wiltjer didn't attempt a field goal in his seven minutes of play.

The Wildcats were also held to just one three-pointer. Sophomore Doron Lamb made a long-range jumper to give UK a 20-18 lead with 6:08 to go in the first half, but that was the only three-pointer of the afternoon for Kentucky.


Jones keeps up

Terrence Jones had 15 points and 11 rebounds against LSU on Friday, and his personal 9-0 run was crucial to Kentucky holding off the Tigers' upset bid.

The performance came as no surprise to his teammates.

"That's how he plays," Davis said. "That's how we needed him to play if we were going to get the win and be successful throughout the tournament."

LSU led 35-30 before Jones went to work with 15:43 to play in the game.

He caught a lob from Miller and threw down a two-handed dunk. Then he drove the baseline and slammed again. He hit 1-of-2 free throws with 14:41 to play that tied the score at 35-35, then gave UK the lead for good when he put back a Miller miss at the 14:19 mark.

After the game, Calipari was reminded that he's said "maybe" UK won't lose if Jones plays that way.

"I didn't say 'maybe,' I said 'we don't,'" Calipari said. "But it's hard. The kids aren't machines."


Game Information

Kentucky vs. Florida
Saturday, 1 p.m.
New Orleans Arena
New Orleans

TV: ABC
Radio: UK IMG Network
Series: UK leads 92-33
Last Meeting: Kentucky won 74-59 on March 4 in Gainesville, Fla.

No. 1 Kentucky (31-1, 16-0 SEC)
Coach: John Calipari (498-151; 95-13 at Kentucky)
Florida (23-9, 10-6 SEC)
Coach: Billy Donovan (418-176; 382-155 at Florida)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht./Wt. PPG RPG
G Marquis Teague Fr. 6-2/189 9.6 2.5
G Doron Lamb So. 6-4/210 13.2 2.9
F Terrence Jones So. 6-9/252 12.4 6.8
F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Fr. 6-7/232 12.1 7.8
F Anthony Davis Fr. 6-10/220 14.3 10.0
Pos. Name Yr. Ht./Wt. PPG RPG
G Erving Walker Sr. 5-8/177 12.3 2.9
G Kenny Boynton Jr. 6-2/189 16.7 2.4
G Bradley Beal Fr. 6-3/207 14.5 6.5
F Erik Murphy Jr. 6-10/230 10.2 4.2
C Patric Young So. 6-9/247 10.3 6.5

Key Storylines

Threes a Charm
Florida has had two cracks at Kentucky this season and come up well short both times, including last Sunday's loss in Gainesville. The Gators, the SEC's most prolific three-point shooting team, have made a combined 12 three-pointers in those two games. If Florida wants a different outcome, it likely will have to be on target from long range.

Second Day Settling?
Kentucky looked out of sorts in Friday's quarterfinal round, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist admitted that he was more nervous than for a typical regular-seaoson game. But Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't expect a repeat performance. " It was a new arena for all of us on the team," he said. "And I'm a freshman, so it was just real new. Real new. But I'm ready to play tomorrow, and I really can't wait.

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