"The other players feed off him," Gillispie said of Patterson. "He commands respect offensively and defensively."
Guard Michael Porter agreed with his coach, saying he notices a difference when Patterson is out of the lineup.
"When Pat is in there, it helps us play a little bit easier," Porter said. "We know when we throw it down to him, he can pretty much get a basket. He's a leader on the court. It just always helps having him on the court."
Played without pain
The week off seemed like an eternity to Patterson, but the Kentucky forward said he "had a great week of preparation" and wasn't nervous about his return. He played 30 minutes, but said he had the desire to play the entire contest.
"I thought I would get to play 40 minutes," he said. "I got into foul trouble early and had to sit down. Being able to go out there and play without pain in my ankle and help my teammates out was just great. No pain whatsoever."
Patterson even convinced the Kentucky trainers that his ankle was fine before the game and that he was ready to return to the court.
"I had to tell him if it hurt and it hadn't," he said. "I came out here today and it felt great. There was no pain in practice this week, so I was able to just go out there and play my game."
Patterson missed the previous two games after spraining his ankle in a 68-65 win over Florida on Feb. 10. The Wildcats relied on The Jodie Meeks Show to dispose of Arkansas four days later, but not having Patterson on the court isn't something they could afford to get accustomed to, especially with their postseason future hanging in the balance.
Patterson said the hardest part was last Tuesday's letdown at Vanderbilt.
"It was just real hard not to be able to step out there on the court," he said.
During his absence, Patterson not only rested his ankle, but gave his finger a chance to heal, also adding more relief on the court.
"I don't have to wear a rubber band around my finger anymore," he said. "The week off not only helped with my ankle, but with my finger."
Patterson said not having his fingers taped helped with his jump shot.
"My shots were a lot easier to get off. They were as lot more smooth and easier to get off," he said.
Now that he's healthy and back in court, Patterson said the team's goal for the remainder of the season is simple.
"Hopefully we'll go 4-0," he said.