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Teague the point guard set to return in place of Teague the cheerleader

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Marquis Teague had 13 points and eight assists in a win on Feb. 11 at Vanderbilt. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Marquis Teague had 13 points and eight assists in a win on Feb. 11 at Vanderbilt. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
In Southeastern Conference play, Marquis Teague had played fewer than 30 minutes just once. Even in that game, the point guard's minutes were limited to 28 simply because the outcome was determined early in a blowout win over South Carolina.

For a player used to having the ball in his hands on nearly a full-time basis for his Kentucky team, spending the final 8:06 on the sidelines of a close game against Mississippi State had to be at least a little strange.

If it was, Teague certainly didn't show it.

UK would outscore the host Bulldogs 25-9 en route to a 73-64 victory with Doron Lamb running the point while Teague sat on the bench.

In truth, he didn't do all that much sitting. Rather than pouting or demanding to reenter the game, Teague turned into the Wildcats' chief towel-waver.

"The greatest part of it was how he cheered. He was into every possession down the stretch cheering his team on," John Calipari said. "Here's a guy who's been out there every one of those situations all year and this situation we didn't need him out there because the team was playing well."

When he was asked about why he had that attitude, Teague wasn't overly philosophical in his response.

"Because I just want to win," Teague said. "That's the only thing that matters. I was cheering my teammates on like they would for me. It's just all about winning."

Teague knows his fellow Wildcats would do the same for him because he's watched them in the very same position. There isn't a player on the roster who hasn't found himself on the bench for an extended period because the group of five on the floor was playing so well.

"'He wasn't out because of him,'" Calipari told his team after the game. "'He was out because you all played well. But that's happened to Terrence (Jones), it's happened to Doron, it's happened to Darius (Miller), it's happened to Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist).'"

Other than Teague's unselfishness, Calipari learned something new about his young team after the point guard's stint on the bench. With his physical style on defense, Kentucky is likely to face a game in which Teague is saddled with foul trouble. Knowing Lamb can handle himself and the team in a competitive game is a valuable piece of information as the Cats close in on postseason play.

"If we have to go with Doron extended minutes at point guard, we're fine," Calipari said.

No matter how well Teague proved himself as a cheerleader or Lamb showed what he can do as a point guard on Tuesday night, don't expect the Indianapolis, Ind., native to reprise the role when No. 1 Kentucky (27-1, 13-0 Southeastern Conference) hosts Vanderbilt (20-8, 9-4 SEC) on Saturday at noon on CBS.

The Wildcats and Commodores faced off just two weeks ago and Teague had somewhat of a coming out party in primetime. After some had called him the "weak link" in UK's national championship chase, Teague dazzled with 13 points and eight assists against just one turnover. He seamlessly shifted from scorer to facilitator as UK edged Vanderbilt, 69-63.

"When I was penetrating, they were kind of trying to take the lob away from Anthony so they gave me free layups and things like that," Teague said.

Vanderbilt senior Brad Tinsley opened the game on Teague and the freshman took advantage of every hole that was given to him. He scored eight of his points in the first half before Vanderbilt deployed a 2-3 zone defense that was much more effective in limiting both Teague and his teammates.

The Commodores will surely account for Teague much more in their game plan than the last time around, but Teague still plans on exploiting any opportunities given to him.

"If it's there, (he will attack)," Teague said. "I'll just take whatever the defense gives. Maybe they might step up this time. I don't know."

Having faced off so recently, the Cats and Commodores won't be surprising each other much on Saturday.

"We kind of know what they're going to do, but they know what we're going to do," Teague said. "We know the matchups real well because we just played them. It will be a well fought out game."

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings could certainly mix in that zone earlier and try to limit Teague, but the framework for how the two teams try to attack each other will remain in place for the last matchup.

"That's just normal second time you play a team, third time you play a team," Calipari said. "We are what we are. They are what they are. There will be some small little bumps. You two really good teams going at each other in a really significant game, one that would mean something to both teams. Hopefully we play well and they play well it's a great game."

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