The No. 2 ranked Wildcats welcome Kentucky native Darrin Horn and his South Carolina Gamecocks to Rupp Arena for the tipoff of the 2012 Southeastern Conference slate. Horn’s club, while 8-6 on the year, has won six of its last seven games thanks in large part to the return of Bruce Ellington, who has doubled with the football team.
In SEC season openers since league expansion in 1991, UK has won 16 and lost only four, including last season’s loss to Georgia.
Now, on to the stats and trends:
Darius Miller — The senior became the 58th member of UK’s 1,000-point club with his 15 points against Arkansas-Little Rock … Since going 0 of 3 from long distance versus Loyola (Md.), Miller has made 8 of 14 from beyond the arc (57.1 percent), raising his season average to 33.9 percent … Over the last four games Miller has grabbed 21 rebounds (seven offensive), raising his season average to 3.7 rpg … Miller followed up his eight turnover game against U of L with only one miscue against UALR … On the season, Miller is averaging a career-high 2.5 assists per game after averaging 2.0, 1.5 and 1.7 dimes his first three seasons … In five of the last six games, Miller has scored in double figures … When Miller attempts double-digit shots, as he has five times this year, he averages 14.6 points per game and makes 54.7 percent of his shots … When Miller attempts single-digit shots, he averages 8.6 points and shoots 42.9 percent from the floor (30 of 70).
Terrence Jones — Jones has grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the last three games (3.3 pg); he averaged 1.7 offensive rebounds through his first 10 games … Since Jones returned to the lineup after missing two consecutive games due to a finger injury, he’s averaging 7.7 points, shooting 32.0 percent from the field (8 of 25), is 4 of 10 from the free-throw line (40.0 percent), with eight turnovers, three blocks and three assists … Jones leads the team with four charges drawn.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — MKG has snagged 29 rebounds over the last two games (11 offensive), raising his season average to 7.9 rpg … He has made 3-of-7 trey attempts over the last two games (42.9 percent), after going 0 of 3 the previous three games … MKG had a season-high six turnovers against UALR … He also had a season-high three blocks against UALR … Since making only 1-of-7 shots against St. John’s nine games ago, Kidd-Gilchrist has connected on 43-of-75 shots from the field (57.3 percent).
Doron Lamb — Over the last four games, Lamb has made only 2-of-11 3-point shots (18.2 percent) … In the four games leading up to the UALR contest, Lamb took 25 free throws (making 22), but against the Trojans Lamb took only one shot from the charity stripe … Lamb’s three assists versus UALR is his highest total since his three dimes against St. John’s … Since Lamb scored 26 points against Samford, he’s averaging 10.0 ppg the last four contests.
Anthony Davis — The big man has put together four consecutive double-double games, averaging 16.3 points and 12.5 rebounds in those contests … Davis has 15 blocks over the last three games, raising his season average to 4.5 bpg … He is on pace to block 158 shots, based on him playing 35 games … In the last four games Davis has made 22-of-34 shots (64.7 percent) … Since starting the season making only 20-of-36 free throws (55.6 percent), in the last five games Davis has made 23-of-30 shots from the line (76.7 percent) … Davis leads UK with 43 dunks on the year.
Marquis Teague — Teague has recorded 10 assists to six turnovers the last two games, after having 12 assists and 14 turnovers the previous three contests … Against UALR, Teague made less than 30 percent of his shots for the fifth time in the last nine games … He has made only 1-of-8 3-point tries over the last three games (12.5 percent) … Over the last four games Teague has made 15-of-17 free throws (88.2 percent), raising his season average to 68.2 percent … UK’s point guard has blocked a shot in four straight games.
Kyle Wiltjer — Wiltjer has played double-digit minutes in six consecutive contests … He has missed all three of his long-range shots over the last two games after making 8-of-19 the previous four games (42.1 percent) … In his last 40 minutes of play, covering three games, Wiltjer has grabbed five rebounds.
Eloy Vargas — The big man is averaging only 4.5 minutes per game over the last four games … In those 18 minutes of action, Vargas has put up these numbers: 1-of-4 field goals, two points, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Team — Team season averages: 48.5 percent field-goal shooting, 36.4 percent 3-point shooting, 70.9 percent free-throw accuracy, 42.6 rebounds per game, 14.3 assists, 13.6 turnovers, 9.4 blocks, 6.9 steals, 81.0 points per game, while giving up 58.7 points per contest.
Cal on the Cats
On the team’s struggles at this point in the year being similar to last year’s …
“Last year we got on the road and we didn’t come out with the fire, and when it was close, I don’t think we all believed. By the end of the year, we believed we could beat anybody. I think this team believes; No. 2 in the country, I imagine they believe. They hopefully understand that we have to get better, which is my only concern. It’s not where we are right now, it’s that we’re getting better. There comes a point where we are what we are, and we tie it all up, and touch up at the ends like we did last year. We just aren’t there yet. We still have some guys that aren’t playing with the intensity or toughness that they need to. We get all that together, and the rotation down — which has been tough because of injuries — I think we’ll get better.”
Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. with television on the SEC Network. Stay tuned to CoachCal.com as Eric Lindsey and UK assistant coach John Robic will be along with a comprehensive scouting report on South Carolina.
Improvement Cal’s top priority as Cats open SEC play