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March 9, 2012
Notes: MKG keeps family photo close on the road
NEW ORLEANS - At first glance, it's just like any other wedding photo. Family and friends are gathered at an altar. There's a bride and groom, and in the midst of their loved ones, a smiling kid yet to hit his teens.
The kid is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and that isn't any ordinary photo.
Kentucky's freshman forward doesn't leave home without that framed picture. It sits in his locker in Lexington, and it was in his locker at the New Orleans Arena on Friday after the Wildcats' 60-51 Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinal win against LSU.
"I'm a family person," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "That's what it means, really."
Kidd-Gilchrist is nine or 10 years old, he said, in the photo, which was taken at his late uncle's wedding.
Darrin Kidd, the uncle celebrating his wedding in the photo, died last year on the day Kidd-Gilchrist signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Wildcats. Kidd-Gilchrist changed his name last summer, including Kidd's name as a way to honor his uncle.
"That's what I have in my locker all the time," said Kidd-Gilchrist, who said he takes the framed picture on every trip.
"I don't have anything special like that the way that he does," teammate Darius Miller said. "He has it every game, and I can tell that it means a lot to him, just by the way that he brings it every day. He always messes with it before the game. Anything that you would take like that and keep it in your locker before every game, I think it means a lot to him."
He got the chance to see if it had paid off on Friday. Davis was sent to the bench with 7:08 to go in the first half after picking up his second foul and didn't return until after the break. Kentucky was down 18-15 when Davis went to the bench, but took a 25-24 lead into halftime even without Davis' help.
It was just the scenario that Calipari had been preparing his team for.
"This is a good game for us," Calipari said. "They were ready to do some things. And I'll go back and watch the tape and see what adjustments, because people will be watching the tape saying this is how you need to play them and we have been played every way possible."
Davis played the entire second half and didn't pick up another foul the rest of the afternoon. After posting one point, six rebounds and two blocks in the first half, he finished the game with 12 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. Sam Bowie was the last UK player to have a double-double in his first SEC tournament game.
"He makes such a difference for us when he's on the floor, offensively and defensively," Marquis Teague said. "You've got to have him on the floor. You don't want to play without him, he's so great out there."
Friday marked the first time all season Kentucky's bench failed to score in a game.
Miller played 17 minutes, but went 0-2 from the field with three turnovers. Freshman forward Kyle Wiltjer didn't attempt a field goal in his seven minutes of play.
The Wildcats were also held to just one three-pointer. Sophomore Doron Lamb made a long-range jumper to give UK a 20-18 lead with 6:08 to go in the first half, but that was the only three-pointer of the afternoon for Kentucky.
Terrence Jones had 15 points and 11 rebounds against LSU on Friday, and his personal 9-0 run was crucial to Kentucky holding off the Tigers' upset bid.
The performance came as no surprise to his teammates.
"That's how he plays," Davis said. "That's how we needed him to play if we were going to get the win and be successful throughout the tournament."
LSU led 35-30 before Jones went to work with 15:43 to play in the game.
He caught a lob from Miller and threw down a two-handed dunk. Then he drove the baseline and slammed again. He hit 1-of-2 free throws with 14:41 to play that tied the score at 35-35, then gave UK the lead for good when he put back a Miller miss at the 14:19 mark.
After the game, Calipari was reminded that he's said "maybe" UK won't lose if Jones plays that way.
"I didn't say 'maybe,' I said 'we don't,'" Calipari said. "But it's hard. The kids aren't machines."
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