LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Reeling Kentucky might be getting the jolt it needs from the return of guard Jodie Meeks.
The sophomore has been out for over a month with a stress fracture in his pelvis but could play on Tuesday when the Wildcats (4-4) play at surprising Houston (9-1).
"He gives us a totally different dimension offensively and defensively," coach Billy Gillispie said. "He raises the confidence level of so many of the other players."
Kentucky could use a confidence boost after Saturday's loss to UAB, a game the Wildcats led by 14 with 10 minutes to go before letting it slip away. While Kentucky made a season-high 12 3-pointers in the win, Gillispie chastised his players for settling on jumpers instead of attacking the basket in an effort to get to the free throw line. The Wildcats were just 8-for-8 from the line against UAB.
"I think we took too many (25) 3-point shots," Gillispie said. "When you have Mark Coury and whoever else plays in the interior never make it to the foul line, then something is wrong. Over the course of the season, we are not getting to the foul line enough."
UAB made its run behind the strong play of Robert Vaden but was helped when the Wildcats cooled off, missing their last six 3-pointers.
"We have to finish in the paint and taking more foul shots," he said. "We also have to learn to not foul at difficult times. We are a little bit inexperienced, even though that is not an excuse. We are doing things that inexperienced teams do with our mistakes."
Meeks' return could bolster a thin lineup. The Wildcats played just seven players against the Blazers, but the Cougars' up-tempo play will try to force Gillispie to go a little farther down the bench.
"They are going to play with a free and confident mind," Gillispie said. "The media always talks about how many 3s they shoot and how good they are offensively, but they are a great defensive team as well. They do some things that concern us with their full-court pressure, but hopefully we'll be able to handle the ball better than we have been."
Houston nearly knocked off the Wildcats at Rupp Arena last year and are off to one of the team's best starts in decades. A win on Tuesday would give the Cougars their longest nonconference winning streak since the 1983-84 season.
Though Meeks is apparently ready to return, the status of guard Derrick Jasper remains unclear. The sophomore has been slow to recover from offseason knee surgery. He left practice last Thursday after experiencing pain in the knee and underwent an MRI exam on Monday. The results were not immediately known.
"He is not in condition yet," Gillispie said.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.