In the last 6:57, UK¿had five different players hit free throws. Senior Darius Miller was 5-for-6, including 4-for-4 in the final 54.7 seconds. Terrence Jones, who was just 6-for-12 in the game, was 3-for-4. Anthony Davis went 4-for-4 and Marquis Teague, who missed a late free throw in UK’s only loss at Indiana, was 2-for-2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went 1-for-2.
As a team, Kentucky is hitting 71.5 percent at the foul line and has made more free thorws (361-for-505) than its opponents have taken (228-for-333). Alabama was 18-for-25 Saturday.
Calipari was glad to see Miller, who also hit two clutch free throws at Tennessee a week earlier, want and keep the ball in the final minute to get to the foul line.
“He did it, too, and I like that. I like the fact that he held that ball to get fouled,” Calipari said. “I like the fact that Marquis Teague made his foul (shots). That's a good thing because now when your point guard and you have Doron (Lamb) and Darius (Miller) all making free throws — and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) in most cases are making them. He missed a bunch today, and Terrence (Jones) missed a bunch — but the free throws we had to make down the stretch (eight straight in the final 54 seconds) ... we have a nice will to win.”
Jones, who had 12 of his 15 points in the second half, said players have to learn to erase earlier misses from the foul line from their minds in clutch situations.
“It’s just something you have to do mentally, and when it gets closer down the stretch, we just say, as a team, that we’re going to make them. I think that’s what happened,” Jones said. “We got in the bonus early and it was important to drive, be aggressive and get to the line. I missed some shots I should have made, but I’ll get back on the line and work on that. But when we had to make free throws, we did.”
Teammates were not surprised Miller, a 75 percent foul shooter this season, was clutch again.
“He is everything to our team. He is (one of) the only seniors on this team and he means a lot. He means a lot to us and we knew he would make those shots,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.
“Darius hits those shots all the time. He’s been in that situation a lot. He’s confident they’ll go down and we are confident they’ll go down,” Jones said.
Scheduling perspective: Kentucky and Vanderbilt are the only two unbeaten teams in Southeastern Conference play and they don't meet for the first time until Feb. 11 in Nashville. However, last week Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings complained about Kentucky not having to play a Thursday-Saturday setup like nine other league teams do this year, especially since the Cats also didn't last season.
Friday it was Kentucky coach John Calipari's turn to voice his side of UK not having any Thursday SEC games on the schedule other than one that precedes a Sunday game rather than a Saturday game.
“I think there are two other teams in our league that don’t. We do have a Thursday game, though, because TV has decided we’re a CBS game and TV decides most of this," said Calipari. "The option is don’t go on TV and play the date you want to play or play when they want. We sign a TV contract and we have to go with what they say. If they wanted us on every Thursday then we’d play on Thursday and I wouldn’t say a thing.
"Whatever our schedule is, we’ll play. Everyone knows from my history, we’ll play any team, any place, any time. We’ll play on I-95, shut it down. We’ll play on Bluegrass Parkway, shut it down. That’s the schedule, that’s what they threw at us and we’ll take it on.”