"I think he can be really special. He's a young colt out there. Some teams have the luxury of letting a player like that just watch. We can't. He's got to grow up quick. The second half was really a good performance by a freshman against a very good team."
Liggins had three turnovers, including an offensive foul, in five minutes in the first half. Gillispie took him out with 9 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first half and didn't put him back in the game until 12:31 was left in the game. He never came out again.
Liggins had five of his seven assists in the second half as well as two defensive rebounds. More importantly, he turned the ball over just once in 13 minutes and several times threw nice entry passes to center Patrick Patterson that led to scores.
"I think he's tough. But I think he's a freshman," Gillispie said. "Ramon (Harris), Jodie (Meeks) and Patrick have got to help him.
"But I don't think we are as far off as some think. We are going to turn the ball over against good pressure. But he's improving every game and he did from half to half tonight. It's about getting practice and understanding of what we are doing. Every freshman goes through it. I am disappointed we got beat, but I did see things that were bright spots for our future."
So did Patterson, who had 13 of his 19 points and eight of his 11 shots in the second half.
"Liggins had a real good second half. He was trying to defend the quickest point guard (Ty Lawson) in the country. He was able to run the offense and utilize what we had. He hit Jodie outside or got the ball inside. He was being a true point guard and that's what we need.
"As the year goes on, he's going to progress a lot. He is good now, but he's going to be better. He is a scorer. He can shoot. He's just got to push the ball even more and listen to what the coaches tell him."
Nothing dirty: North Carolina freshman Tyler Zeller hurt his wrist when he hit the floor hard after being fouled by Harris from behind with 1:26 to play.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams was not happy that Zeller was injured, but he didn't have any problem with the foul.
"It was just an aggressive play and hard foul," Williams said. "It was not dirty. He was just trying to block a shot."
Harris looked on while Zeller was being examined and let him know there was nothing intentional about the foul.
"We just can't give up easy shots and I was trying to get back to keep him from scoring," Harris said. "There was no intent to hurt him or anything like that on my part."
Tough player: Junior Jodie Meeks was only 5-for-20 from the field and missed his first five shots. He finished with 19 points thanks to 6-for-6 shooting at the foul line and also had seven defensive rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. However, he had six of UK's 28 turnovers. Still, Gillispie had nothing but praise for Meek's play.
"I didn't think he struggled," Gillispie said. "His numbers might not look good, but he's turning into one of the toughest players I have ever coached. He plays to exhaustion. He plays very, very hard. I don't know if I have seen a guy in better condition.
"There was a time he would get tired and not fight through that. Now he does. He got seven rebounds. He's a tremendous driver. He's a good finisher. I've told him to become a lock-down defenser and he was out on Lawson a lot tonight. He's doing great."
Numbers: Meeks has made his last 12 free throws and is 16-for-18 from the foul line this year ... Patrick Patterson had his seventh career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds ... The last time UK started a season 0-2 was the 2000-2001 season. The Cats went 22-10, won the SEC East and went to the NCAA Sweet 16.