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From the Pressbox: Signing Day football/basketball notes

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This week's Signing Day is akin to a national holiday for football fans in the South. And for the first time in a long time - perhaps ever - Big Blue Nation has a widespread case of that fever, thanks to the early work done by new coach Mark Stoops and his staff.

"In just a short time, Mark Stoops has created a little buzz for Kentucky. If he can have any success on the field next year and have something to sell, it'll be a like James Franklin at Vanderbilt. Everyone said, 'Let's see what happens when he gets his teeth kicked in during the season.' But he didn't get his teeth kicked in and he had another good recruiting season," said MrSEC.com editor John Pennington on Friday's "Leach Report" radio show.

Pennington says getting in the door with higher-rated prospects is the first important step in trying to help the UK program make that long-awaited move to a higher level within the toughest league in America.

"It's clear he has a vision and he can pitch it to kids and get them to listen and that's step one," said Pennington. "But if he can get something to show them - this upset, getting to six wins and a bowl game - that's going to take things (to a higher level).
"They've gone out and found a guy who can excite prospects and you haven't had that in a while at Kentucky. Just getting in the living room is the first step and he's clearly shown he can do that. And I think putting money into facilities is going to help as well."

Updating UK's efficiency

After wins at Ole Miss and Texas A&M, Kentucky has moved up to third in the SEC in adjusted points per possession, kenpom.com's measure of offensive efficiency that takes into account strength of schedule. Anything over 1.0 is considered good and the Cats are 1.114 for all games. South Carolina and Auburn, UK's opponents this week, rank 10th and 11th in the SEC, respectively.

Florida leads the SEC in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Gators are in an otherworldly realm in league games alone, with an offensive efficiency rating of 1.204 and a defensive rating of 0.778.

Harrow's progress at point

When you're in a line of succession that starts with Derrick Rose and includes the likes of John Wall and Brandon Knight, the bar is always set high for a John Calipari-coached point guard.

Ryan Harrow struggled in his UK debut and then was sidelined for several weeks with a health issue. Since returning, the improvement curve has had a few dips but the Cats have also played some of their best basketball when Harrow has played his best, with last Tuesday's win at Ole Miss being the latest example.    

Teammate Brian Long says the ups and downs come with the burden of responsibility that position demands at UK.

"I feel like being the point guard in Coach Cal's system is the hardest thing to do.  Watching Marquis (Teague) from the beginning of the year, he struggled and then we couldn't have won in the end without him," Long noted.  

Why is the position so hard to master?

"Because you have to control, know when to let go, when to pull back. You have to control everybody. The ball is in your hands 80 percent of the time probably. So you just have more decisions to make than anyone else," Long explained.

Noel's defense about more than blocks

Nerlens Noel is no longer on pace to break Rajon Rondo's freshman record for steals but there's a good chance he'll end up second, as he needs just 19 more to pass John Wall's 66.

That's impressive stat to many but you get the sense his coach is not as overwhelmed by it. Calipari says trying to steals can lead to cheap fouls, as we saw at Ole Miss.

"If there's a deflection and you can get a steal, great," Calipari said, "but I don't want (him) playing to steal."

Polson staying a factor

Jarrod Polson's junior season started with a bang when he came off the bench to play a key role in the Cats' win over Maryland. And 20 games into the season, he remains a key player in coach Cal's rotation.

Calipari says it's all about "energy" for the junior from Nicholasville, KY.

"He just plays with energy and when you have a bunch of guys playing tentative - because of how they're playing (individually) - you put him in the game and he really stands out, because he is going to play hard every time out," Calipari said on the UK-IMG Network pregame show Tuesday night.

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