Stockton, Moss earn more playing time

November 24, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

LEXINGTON - Ravi Moss and Brandon Stockton have been working hard, and payday finally came Friday night. They surely hope it isn't the last one.

Moss and Stockton spent more time on the floor than in any game since they arrived at Kentucky, and their play in the Wildcats' season-opener may have earned the two sophomores even more minutes.

Kentucky's strength at the guard positions has been well advertised, but the Wildcats might be able to develop an even deeper backcourt if these two can continue to contribute.

They aren't likely to work their way up the depth chart past the likes of true guards Gerald Fitch and Cliff Hawkins or swingmen Kelenna Azubuike and Antwain Barbour, but Stockton and Moss would like to become more useful this season to spell those players.


"I hope so, but that's up to the coaches," Moss said.

Stockton played in 24 games last season and twice saw more than 10 minutes of action, but his 15-plus minutes in Kentucky's 65-44 win over Winthrop were a career high. He hit a 3-point shot and two free throws and had two assists.

Moss didn't play more than five minutes in any of the 12 games he appeared in last season, but he played 11 minutes in the second half Friday, hitting one of three shots from the field and logging two rebounds and two steals.

In Moss' case, it was a reward for his relentless work in practice. Kentucky coach Tubby Smith called Moss one of the two hardest-working players on the team.

Junior Chuck Hayes, the other player Smith singled out in that sentence, said he was glad to see Moss get the chance to do in a game what he does daily in practice.

"That's hard work paying off," Hayes said. "He's busted his tail every day in practice since he's been here. We see it, the coaches see it."

Moss, one of three walk-ons on the UK roster, said he had some idea before Friday's game that he might get some significant minutes.

"I had a little clue that I might play a little bit. Some of the coaches were saying, 'You need to be ready,'" he said. "It's definitely a nice reward Coach gave me. Bringing intensity is something I know I need to do to pick up Gerald and Cliff."

Moss knows such rewards will come regularly only if he has something to offer on game nights, and Smith said he did against Winthrop.

"He made the right decisions defensively, rotating to the right places, and he got some deflections," Smith said.

Smith also had good things to say about Stockton.

"We picked up some momentum when he came in the game," Smith said. "He picked up a 3, he made wise decisions with the basketball and he didn't hurt us defensively."

Stockton also saw some time at point guard, even in one instance when he was on the floor with starting point guard Hawkins.

"Coach wanted to try a couple of things with Cliff at the one and me at the two and then the other way around," Stockton said. "I think it's a great thing. Cliff and I both can shoot well, and we both play defense as hard as we can."

Stockton said he didn't feel his time on the court Friday was an audition for future games, and he said he didn't treat it that way. He said when the call comes again from the head of the bench, he'll try to play the same way.

"You've just got to come out and play to your ability," he said. "You've just got to play as hard as you can when you're out there."

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