"You always want to try and score inside," Smith said. "As long as you go inside, you have the opportunity to get fouled and you'll shoot a higher percentage."
Kentucky has not had much production from 7-foot juniors Shagari Alleyne (1.8 points, 2.8 rebounds per game) and Lukasz Obrzut (1.8 points, 1.0 rebounds). Freshman 7-footer Jared Carter (1.8 points, 1.5 rebounds) has been the most aggressive of the three, but he also has had trouble picking up UK's system.
Smith plans to try various players
That's why Smith said Monday that Kentucky has "six big men, maybe seven." He now considers forwards Rekalin Sims, Sheray Thomas and Bobby Perry "big men" and he has to be hoping that the seventh will soon be sophomore center Randolph Morris, who is awaiting word from the NCAA on his status.
Smith plans to keep using various players inside until "somebody evolves and takes charge" at center.
"No one has done that yet. None (of the 7-footers) have really stepped up," Smith said. "We have not played any other 7-footers, and that makes it tough. I've made a decision to go with a quicker lineup to match up with opponents.
"Some wonder why not force an opponent to match us. If they (the 7-footers) were all shooting 50 to 60 percent from the floor, they would be in all the time. No one is doing that. If they were averaging six to eight rebounds like (guard) Rajon (Rondo), they would be in there."
Instead, Smith has used 6-8 junior college transfer Rekalin Sims often at center with Bobby Perry, a more natural small forward, playing the power forward position. Sims has responded by averaging 11 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, both second only to Rondo (13.8 points, 11 rebounds).
"One reason I am playing the five (center) is because no one else is coming out ready to play that spot," Sims said. "I don't consider myself a five man, but if that is what he (Smith) wants, I can do it. If the 7-footers play tougher, then they will see more of the floor. We need them out there.
Interior players need confidence
"Even though I am playing the five, I am still a four (power forward). I can still go outside and shoot and do the things I usually do. I'm just playing where coach Smith needs me."
Thomas says all the interior players need to be more confident when they have the ball. They also need to be more physical.
"Our practices were physical even before we lost to Iowa," Thomas, who averages 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, said. "Rajon has made us look bad by getting so many rebounds. But we've got to be tougher. We've always had Chuck Hayes. He was a tough competitor. We don't have him now and we all have to be tougher like he was."
High Point does not have a starter taller than 6-8, so Thomas and Sims will be not be overmatched physically inside. However, they both remain convinced Obrzut, Alleyne or Carter will soon be playing more productive minutes as UK gets closer to games with North Carolina, Indiana and Louisville.
"They just need more confidence," Thomas said.
Sims says Kentucky has a weapon not many teams have with three 7-foot centers.
Outside shooting has made up for inside lack
"By getting them in the game and pounding the ball inside, we can be dominant inside and that will just open up the outside game," Sims said.
"In practice our 7-footers rebound real hard. I don't know what it is in a game. In practice, they do dominate the rebounds and they attack the glass and play well."
Kentucky has compensated for its lack of dominant inside play by shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range. The school record from 3-point range is 39.7 set by the 1996 national championship team.
"I knew we were shooting well, but not that well," guard Patrick Sparks, who is 13-for-23 from 3-point range, said. "Let's just hope we can continue to do that."
Smith wasn't sure Monday if sophomore Joe Crawford would play tonight. He missed Friday's game against Liberty because of a bruised hip and sore knee. He did not practice Sunday.
"It does hurt not having him," Smith said. "He was not shooting well, but he was doing a lot of other things well."