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December 22, 2012Sometimes Ryan Harrow runs out of words, but he knows the value of on-court communication. It keeps a player in John Calipari's good graces.
And so Harrow has made a habit of yelling nonsense, just so he's yelling something. He did it Saturday in Kentucky's 82-54 win against Marshall Saturday at Rupp Arena, shouting "Let's go!" at every opportunity.
There was a reason for it.
"I told the guys before the game started that when I said 'Let's go,' I meant 'Let's go home," Harrow said. "So, that was just to make sure that we played good, so that we were able to go home. I didn't want to have to stay here over Christmas break."
After the Cats (8-3) overpowered the Thundering Herd (7-6), there was no danger of that. Calipari wasn't about to play Scrooge after his team outrebounded a physical Marshall club, held the Herd to 29.5 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers that turned into 26 Kentucky points.
"I'm pleased," Calipari said. "We're a long way from home. But it shows that this team - and I keep saying - this team has more upside than any team in the country. We're going to have games where we don't shoot it well. Doesn't matter. If you defend, you're tough, you're rough, create shots for each other, you're going to be fine."
Kentucky did all of that on Saturday. After a practice-filled week with no classes, no exams and no distractions, the Cats showed some emotion, took Marshall's best shots early in each half and responded.
UK closed the first half on a 15-4 run that broke open a tight game, and after Marshall scored the first seven points of the second half, prompting a Calipari timeout, the Cats ripped off a 17-3 run.
It was just the reaction Calipari wanted. A week ago, he'd been disappointed with his team's fire in a blowout of Lipscomb. Against Marshall, he liked what he saw, calling the Herd's physical front line "exactly what we needed" to play against.
"We needed to go against a big, physical team to see if we got tougher in the last two weeks," Calipari said. "Last game, it did not carry over, all the work. This game it did. So that's why I'm happy."
Harrow paced the Cats with a career-best 23 points, the third straight game in which he scored a season high. Archie Goodwin had 18 despite 4-for-17 shooting (he was 10-for-11 from the free-throw line) and Nerlens Noel had his first career double-double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Kentucky shot 50 percent in the second half, put up 52 points in the point and 19 second-chance points. And the Cats showed the kind of emotion Calipari has been imploring them to display.
In short, the Cats scratched off most of what was on Calipari's holiday wish list.
"It could have been that we was all trying to get home, to make sure that we get home, or we just really worked hard this week in practice," Harrow said. "We were really focused, and it was just basketball, basketball, basketball (all week) so it had to have shown."
It showed enough that the Cats didn't run the risk of missing their Christmas break.
Asked if he thought that it a realistic possibility that Calipari would cancel Christmas if the game had gone poorly, Harrow grinned.
"You never know with him," Harrow said.
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