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UK-IU notes: Indiana preparing for Kentucky's best

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In an effort to bring you the most comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky basketball team's postseason run, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be teaming up throughout UK's journey in the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament. You can find stories on the team at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog.

Eric Lindsey contributed to this story

ATLANTA - In the first matchup at Assembly Hall, Indiana succeeded in doing something
that only a couple of teams have done this season.

Yes, they handed Kentucky its only regular-season loss, but they were also one of the few teams to force Anthony Davis into foul trouble. Perhaps it's no coincidence the two happened in the same game.

With Davis battling the whistle for most of the afternoon, Indiana was able to pull in front of the Wildcats and ultimately defeat them on a Christian Watford buzzer beater. Coupled with Terrence Jones, to use John Calipari's words, giving UK "zero" that day, some have said that Indiana beat a Kentucky team that wasn't at full strength.

Whatever the case may be, IU head coach Tom Crean said his team would prepare for UK just like it had in the first matchup. With or without Davis in the lineup, Crean said his team will prepare for the Cats' best.

"I think we prepared for both of them to be on the floor the last time," Crean said. "I don't think you prepare different. You prepare for the very best. You prepare for a lot of the best we've seen form Kentucky and show it to your team."

Crean believes the limited availability of Davis did little to diminish his team's signature victory.

"I don't think that defensive field-goal percentage is an accident," Crean said of UK's 37.0 defensive field-goal percentage, the top mark in the nation. "I think they're really, really good. Their individual defense is strong because of their talent and athleticism, but (John Calipari's) got them playing team defense in such a strong way."

Davis played just 24 minutes in the game in Bloomington, Ind. He hasn't played fewer than 25 minutes since.

"He left his feet twice and he didn't need to either time," Coach Cal said.

The freshman forward has also made a conscientious effort to stay out of foul trouble since that game, which has worked. The game against the Hoosiers was the last time he committed four or more fouls, a remarkable achievement for the nation's leading shot blocker.

"Coach Cal always tells me if I get in foul trouble it hurts my team and my teammates," Davis said. "When I'm not on the floor the teams try to attack the basket knowing I'm not going to block shots. It makes it a lot harder for my teammates, so I just try to play without fouling."

Davis wins another national player of the year award

Davis joked last week in Louisville that he may need a new trophy case for the number of awards he was expected to receive. After yet another award Thursday, he may need to get serious.

The nation's top shot blocker was selected Thursday as the winner of the 2012 Adolph Rupp Award, given annually by the Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky to the national player of the year. He's the second Wildcat to win the award, following up John Wall's honors in 2010.

Earlier this week Davis was awarded with the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the U.S. Basketball Writers' Association national player of the Year award. In addition to winning the Wayman Tisdale Award (USBWA freshman of the Year) and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, the 6-foot-10 forward is also a Naismith Trophy finalist.

 "The recognition is nice, but I want to win the biggest award of them all and that's the national championship," Davis said Tuesday after winning the Oscar Robertson Trophy. "I have to stay humble and keep working."

The Chicago native is averaging a team-high 14.3 points and 10.1 rebounds while leading UK to its third straight Sweet 16. He has started all 36 games this season while shooting 63.6 percent from the field, third in the nation.

Davis leads the country in blocked shots with 166 and has already set the program's new single-season blocks mark as well as the SEC's single-season freshman record. With five more blocks, he'll break Jarvis Varnado's single-season SEC record of 170.

He has recorded 18 double-doubles this year, the second-highest total in a single season by a UK freshman.

Despite hype, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist focused on tourney run

Look at NBA draft projections and you're likely to see roommates Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist among the top picks, if not No. 1 and No. 2 overall.

With his otherworldly blend of size, skill, defensive prowess and potential, Davis has even been talked about as having the firmest grip on the top overall pick since LeBron James in 2003. That's high praise indeed, but Davis isn't thinking about the next level or even making a decision to enter the draft.

"The season's not over," Davis said. "You can't really worry about the future right now. I'm just trying to win a national championship for my team, and then when the time comes, whether it be this year or next year or whatever year, that's when I'm going to have to sit down with my family and my coaches and decide what I'm going to do."

Kidd-Gilchrist is in the same position, though he was the subject of a report by Chad Ford of ESPN.com that the freshman swingman is planning to enter the draft when UK's season ends. Kidd-Gilchrist responded to the story on Twitter on Thursday evening.

"I don't know where this is coming from," Kidd-Gilchrist tweeted. "This is MY decision. Right now all I'm focused on (is) my teammates and winning games."

Quickly thereafter, he talked about how and when he'll make his choice.

"After the season (I'll) make a decision that's best for me and my family!"

Hoosiers to test UK from 3

There's one 3-pointer that sticks out from the first Kentucky-Indiana matchup this season.

"I know they made one really good shot at the end of the game because I've seen it on commercial about every 15 minutes," Calipari said.

Watford's buzzer beater was just one of nine 3s the Hoosiers drained against UK in Bloomington, though, and it only took them 15 attempts to do it. The shooting performance was an extraordinary one, but it was not entirely out of character.

IU ranks second in the nation in 3-point shooting at 43.7 percent, but just 27.6 percent of their field-goal attempts come from beyond the arc, 292nd nationally. At first blush, one might think those statistics suggest IU should attempt more 3s, but Calipari doesn't see it that way.

"They're like us," Calipari said. "They don't play to shoot 3s, but they're a great 3-point shooting team."

Instead, IU opts to run its offense through Cody Zeller, who leads his team in usage rate at 24.1 percent. Zeller is effective scoring in the post, but he creates opportunities for his teammates just as frequently by drawing the attention of opponents.

"It comes from when we throw it inside to (Zeller) and he finds us on the perimeter," said junior point guard Jordan Hulls, who has made 70 3s on 49.3-percent shooting this season.

Calipari pushing aside championship pressure


With their team occupying the top spot in the polls the final eight weeks of the season, UK fans are buzzing about the prospect that this bunch of Wildcats could be the one to deliver the school's first national championship in 14 seasons.

After three seasons as UK head coach, Calipari is unsurprised by the thought process.

"It's Kentucky," Calipari said. "Do you expect anything else?"

The excitement on the part of fans is understandable, but Calipari isn't letting the Wildcats take on the same mentality. He knows it's the fastest path to an early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

"We have to play Indiana," Calipari said. "I'm telling our team, 'Forget about this tournament, just play basketball. And the basketball you're going to play is against a team that's already beaten you.' "

Smiles lead to championships?


Senior Darius Miller is one of only two players that have been a part of Coach Cal's first three seasons at Kentucky (Jon Hood is the other), so he has a pretty good gauge on how this year's team compares to the previous two.

Miller said there aren't a ton of differences between the three teams, noting the wealth of weapons and cohesiveness on all three, but the number of smiles on this year's team may separate this group.

"I think the main point is we have a lot of fun with everything we do," Miller said. "You see us laughing and smiling on the court, clapping, and you see all the emotion we leave on the court. ... I think it's kind of emphasized this year on how much we do those things."

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CAT Strech fever all the way!!!!!

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