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Trey Lyles returned to the lineup against LSU after a three-game absence. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Trey Lyles returned to the lineup against LSU after a three-game absence. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
By this point, you might think John Calipari would be carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

His team piling up wins and the nation's last remaining unbeaten, he had reason to be wound up tight knowing LSU would be ready to give the Wildcats its best shot on Tuesday.

Instead, he was sitting on the team plane bound for Baton Rouge, La., hatching a prank to play on rabid Kentucky fans.

It started with a text message sent to Deputy Athletics Director DeWayne Peevy that eventually became this tweet.


Peevy's initial reaction was to literally search the plane for Lyles, who had inspired continual speculation in recent weeks with an illness that had kept him out of action since Jan. 29.

"And when he did that, I knew 'Uh-oh. This is gonna be absolutely outrageous,' " Calipari said. "And we had people camped out at the hotel. We had people camped out as we got off the bus."

Once the confusion was overcome, the tweet went out.  More than 2,000 retweets and a #WhereIsTrey hashtag later, Coach Cal had a national story on his hands.

"That blew up kinda big," said Lyles, who even threw up the hood on his sweatshirt upon arrival in Louisiana to keep the ruse alive. "My mentions on Twitter wouldn't go away, so a lot of people were interested in it, getting into it. I thought it was funny. Coach was trying to have a nice little joke going there. I thought it was pretty funny. Coach had a good sense of humor with that and he played it out well."

For once, conversation turned away from top-ranked UK's pursuit of perfection. For Calipari, it was mission accomplished.

"I was on a plane and I'm thinking, 'Our fans are going nutty,' " Calipari said. " 'They got to loosen up a little bit. This isn't life or death. It's not March.' "

The Big Blue Nation was his primary target audience, but #WhereIsTrey also served to remind Calipari's team that it's still the regular season.

"I wanted them to understand, and I keep telling them, 'What's the worst?' " Calipari said. "I'll say it this time: We lose this game we're 22-1, 23, whatever it is. What's it matter? Just go play. Let's try to get better."

UK, of course, would win anyway by overcoming a late six-point deficit at LSU. With the victory, the Cats carry a 24-0 (11-0 Southeastern Conference) record into a rematch with South Carolina (12-11, 3-8 SEC) at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Lyles, of course, will be available again after returning to score four points and grab three rebounds in 18 minutes at LSU.

"I just had strep throat, wasn't feeling good for a few days," said Lyles, who is "feeling 100 percent." "Coach and them just wanted to keep me away from the guys so they wouldn't come down with anything."

In Lyles' absence, UK was outrebounded twice in three outings after losing the rebounding battle in just three of 19 games previously. Devin Booker sees Lyles helping to change that.

"Rebounding," Booker said. "He brings that to the team every time. He attacks the offensive glass and defensive rebounds. He's like a 6(-foot-)10 3-man. That helps a lot."

Lyles also adds depth, though that also requires an adjustment on the part of his teammates.

"Guys got to be willing to sacrifice three minutes or two minutes," Calipari said. "There are times where we got to go at him, which may take a shot away from some other guys, but what does it matter? At the end of the day, either you can play or you can't play. Reality. Either you're an efficient player or you're not. They don't need to see you for 40 minutes. That's all ego stuff."

Considering they've been checking their egos all season, that shouldn't be much of a problem.

Video: Coach Cal on UK's matchup with South Carolina

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Performance of the Week

Anthony Davis | New Orleans Pelicans: 116, Oklahoma City Thunder: 113
After falling to the Thunder 102-91 in New Orleans on February 4, the Pels were seeking revenge when they traveled to the Sooner State a short two days later. Not only did Davis pour in 41 points and grab 10 rebounds in the rematch, but the 6-foot-10 former collegiate national player of the year nailed his first 3-point field goal of the season, by way of a game-winning 30-foot double-clutch jumper over Kevin Durant at the buzzer.


Cats in the Spotlight

Eric Bledsoe | #2 PG | Phoenix Suns (29-23)
Over three games in the first week of February, Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points, 6.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds per contest. Though the Suns dropped two straight to the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively, Phoenix ended the week on a high note with a 100-93 victory over the Utah Jazz.

DeMarcus Cousins | #15 C | Sacramento Kings (17-32)
Despite three consecutive losses by the woeful Kings, Cousins still managed to produce 25.3 PPG and 10.7 RPG weekly averages. The Mobile, Ala. native also made his mark on the defensive end of the floor, averaging 2.7 blocks (1.0 greater than his season average) through the week's three contests.

Anthony Davis | #23 PF | New Orleans Pelicans (27-24)

Besides his memorable 41-point, 10-rebound performance in his second game with OKC in one week, Davis recorded 29 points and 13 rebounds in NOLA's streak-snapping win over the Atlanta Hawks, as well as 23 points and eight rebounds in the loss to the Thunder. However, in the Pelicans' 107-72 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, Davis sprained his shoulder during the fall from a successful slam dunk. "The Brow's" injury status is day-to-day.

Enes Kanter | #0 C | Utah Jazz (18-33)
Kanter recorded two double-doubles in four starting efforts for the youthful Utah Jazz. Scoring at least 16 points in every game but one, the 22-year-old Turkish big man also averaged 9.0 RPG on the week. The Jazz lost three straight before emerging triumphant over Cousins' Kings on February 7.

Brandon Knight | #11 PG | Milwaukee Bucks (28-23)
After missing February 2 with a sore quadriceps muscle, Knight nearly completed his first career triple-double, with 24 points (on 4 of 7 shooting from downtown and 6 of 6 from the free throw stripe), eight assists and seven rebounds in a 113-105 win over the Los Angeles Lakers two days later. Following a 12-point, 11-assist performance in a Feb. 6 defeat at the hands of the Houston Rockets, Knight bounced back with 26 points in the Bucks' 96-93 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

John Wall | #2 PG | Washington Wizards (32-20)
Through four games last week, Wall averaged 18.0 PPG and 9.8 APG, despite only one Washington win. Wall recorded two double-doubles (16 points, 10 assists and 15 points, 13 assists), and flirted with a triple-double (24 points, nine assists, seven rebounds). After three straight losses, the Wiz defeated the Brooklyn Nets 114-77 on February 7.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 12 points and 13 rebounds in UK's 71-69 win over LSU on Tuesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Karl-Anthony Towns had 12 points and 13 rebounds in UK's 71-69 win over LSU on Tuesday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
The way things were going, Kentucky needed a life vest.

The Wildcats, possession by possession, were watching a lead that once reached 13 points disappear, the pivotal play coming when Karl-Anthony Towns hung on the rim too long on a dunk attempt with UK up eight and drew a technical foul.

After that, the Cats were going to have to figure out how to tread water on their own.

"Nope. No timeouts this time," Calipari said. "They're going to learn their lesson on this. We're not losing in March because of a play like that."

In a blink, LSU was on a 16-0 run and UK trailed 66-60. Unbeaten record and all, Coach Cal was fully prepared for the result to go against his team for the first time in 2014-15 so the same wouldn't happen again when a loss would mean the end of the season.

"I hope we lose," Calipari said. "You'll learn. You'll never do - watch this. You don't do stuff like that in a 10-point game. You finish people off."

The Cats, however, weren't about to go along with that.

Instead, No. 1 UK closed on an 11-3 run to move to 24-0 (11-0 Southeastern Conference) and secure a 71-69 win over the Tigers (17-7, 6-5 SEC) in a raucous Maravich Center. LSU failed to score for the final 3:52 in falling short in its upset bid.

"That is what you sign up for when you come to Kentucky," said Willie Cauley-Stein, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and two more SportsCenter Top 10-worth dunks. "They tell you that when they are in your home visiting you, it's going to be a sell-out every night. It's going to be a gold-out, a black-out or a white-out every night. Everyone is going to have t-shirts. That's what it is when you sign up to play here. It's good for us."

UK won the battle on the glass against a big, athletic LSU frontline, 40-35. Fittingly, it was the player who made the mistake that triggered the run that nearly felled the Cats who got the biggest rebound of them all.

After Towns scored with 1:30 left to give UK a one-point lead and LSU committed a turnover, the Cats had the ball and ran down the shot clock. Andrew Harrison tried a jumper and missed, but Towns, refusing to put his head down after his technical, tapped the loose ball to himself and snared it to keep possession.

"I had to let that play go," Towns said. "The biggest thing I was worried about was getting this W. I just had to put my body on the line and do anything I could to get this win. I am glad I was able to come down with the rebound and give my team what they needed."

Devin Booker, who scored 14 points, would get fouled and hit one of two at the line. LSU's Keith Hornsby tried a 3 in the final seconds, but it missed. That loss, even though Calipari was resigned to it, just wouldn't come. Or more appropriately, the Cats - and the player known by shorthand as KAT - wouldn't let it.

"The other thing I'm proud of Karl is he came back and he grew up," Calipari said of Towns, who had 12 points and 13 rebounds. "Big rebound, big steal, big basket. Won the game. Now, I doubt ever in his life will he chin up on a basket. Ever again."

Consider the lesson learned.

"I can't be doing that," Towns said.

Video: Coach Cal's post-LSU press conference

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Video: Towns, Cauley-Stein on UK's win at LSU

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