Little things get Carrier more playing time

December 12, 2004|MARTY WARREN

LOUISVILLE - Josh Carrier has shown in practice that he can do the little things needed to gain more playing time for Kentucky.

Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said the senior from Bowling Green has been doing all the right things in practice - playing good on the ball defense and shooting the lights out of Memorial Coliseum.

Saturday, Smith gave Carrier a much needed confidence boost when he rewarded him with playing time to start the second half after Carrier canned both of his shots as Kentucky broke open a tight game late in the half to lead 33-24 at the intermission.

"Josh came in and played well for us in the first half and he needed to be rewarded for his effort," Smith said after the game. "He gave us more stability and was another outside threat. When your perimeter people shoot well, it opens up the inside game more."


Indiana coach Mike Davis noticed.

"I thought this was our best basketball team. But, it was so important for them to go inside," Davis said. "Once (UK) established their inside game, I thought we did a great job defending their perimeter players, (Patrick) Sparks and (Josh) Carrier. They walked out and shot 49 percent. We haven't given that up in a game all year. But, at the same time, I thought we did a great job on their perimeter people."

Carrier, who said before the season that he was willing to bide his time while helping freshmen Rajon Rondo, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford adjust to the college game, can put more pressure on opposing defenses if his shot comes around during the game.

He is the first to admit that while he has been shooting the ball well during practice, strange things begin to happen when he shoots in Rupp Arena.

"I would have to say this is the best I have played all season," Carrier said. "I made a couple shots early and was able to get my confidence, but then I committed a couple of stupid fouls and had to go right back to the bench. I think I have always played well here, but for some reason my shots just haven't fallen consistency at Rupp."

Soon after he went into the game, he hit a 3-pointer

He entered the game at the 13:35 mark of the first half and nailed a 3-pointer less than two minutes later that trimmed the lead to 13-11 just ahead of a television time out.

The Hoosiers (2-4) continued to lead 19-17 before Sparks scored seven straight points and Carrier added a lay-up to give the Wildcats a 26-19 lead and forced Indiana into another timeout.

"That was when they adjusted more to (our perimeter players) and we decided to go more inside," Carrier said. "I don't think they could guard us when we were able to get it down low. We went more to the inside-out game and Patrick hit some big shots when we threw it back out."

Smith was pleased with the play of his bench, which out-scored Indiana 21-6.

"Guys like Josh Carrier, Bobby Perry, Shagari Alleyne and Joe Crawford - everybody stepped up and made a real contribution."

"Rajon, Bobby and Joe are gaining confidence every game," Carrier said. "We have been pushing them hard in practice and it is carrying over to the game."

Kentucky, who has now won five games in a row over the Hoosiers and 10 of the last 11 meetings, didn't have very much to say about their upcoming opponent, the Louisville Cardinals, next week at Freedom Hall.

"It's another in-state game and one we would like to win," Carrier said. "If we come out and play like we did today, I like our chances."

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