Wildcats Return to Court Two Weeks After Gardner-Webb Shocker

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Two weeks have passed since Kentucky's shocking loss to Gardner-Webb, and the players are eager to replace those negative memories with some positive ones.

"I don't think I've ever waited that long to play another game," forward Perry Stevenson said. "We just can't wait to get back on the floor."

The Wildcats (1-1) get that chance Wednesday night against Liberty (2-3). Stevenson promises two weeks of practices have ensured this team will be better than the one that lost in round two of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic to a Gardner-Webb program that finished 9-21 last year.

"That's in the past," forward Mark Coury said. "We've got to move on. We don't want it to happen again."

Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, who complained about the early start to the season, said the loss was unfortunate, but the resulting two-week break was welcome because of the extra practice time.

Wildcats fans, known as some of the most anxious in the country during tough times, are justified in their demands for improvement, Gillispie said.

"That's definitely not acceptable to me," he said. "That's no disrespect to our opponents, but that's not something that should have happened."

As for inspiring his players, Gillispie's practices have been tough but not as physical as a preseason conditioning "boot camp," Stevenson said. Gillispie said he never considered doing anything drastic, such as shutting the team out of the locker room, which Michigan State coach Tom Izzo did after the Spartans lost to Division II Grand Valley State.

"Some of those things work, some of them don't," Gillispie said. "It may be a move we make later if we ever have the need to do something like that. At this point, I don't think that's what they need."

On the injury front, the Wildcats will be without their top outside shooter, sophomore guard Jodie Meeks, for at least a month. Meeks was diagnosed with a stress-fracture in his pelvic area, which he likely sustained during a preseason game.

The good news for Kentucky is two players who have been battling nagging injuries, guard Joe Crawford and center Jared Carter, are closer to being fully healthy.

However, Gillispie remained mum on whether Crawford -- a starter last year under former coach Tubby Smith -- would make his first start of the season Wednesday in place of Meeks. Freshman Alex Legion also figures to get a spike in playing time.

"I don't think you have to have a bunch of home run hitters when one guy goes down like Meeks," Gillispie said. "You have to have everybody on the team do a little bit more."

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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