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By LARRY VAUGHT
For only the second this season, Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has gone three straight games without scoring in double figures. Yet Kentucky coach John Calipari insisted after Saturday nightâ€™s win over Iowa State that Kidd-Gilchrist was â€œfineâ€ and doing plenty of things to help the Wildcats going into Fridayâ€™s game against Indiana.
Kidd-Gilchrist had just two points and was 1-for-4 from the field against Iowa State. He had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting against Western Kentucky Thursday and tallied five points on 2-for-4 shooting in the Southeastern Conference Tournament loss to Vanderbilt.
â€œHe has a list of about nine things that he does when he’s not scoring,â€â€ˆsaid Calipari. â€œIf he is scoring, he’s as good as anybody. Right now on this team with Doron (Lamb), with Darius (Miller), with â€”Â I mean, he goes â€” he scored how many today? He scores two points, but he gets seven rebounds, he defends like crazy.Â He gets toughness.
â€œAnd he’s fine. He’s in there happy as heck. It’s what’s unique about this team. They know they’re not being judged by numbers. They’re being judged by how they’re playing as a team and as an individual.â€
Calipari also said not to forget that Kidd-Gilchrist gave up his starting spot to Miller in the SEC Tournament game when he was in a scoring slump. Miller had 16 points in that game and came through with 19 points against Iowa State in one of his best games at Kentucky.
â€œSo Darius got going a little bit (in the SEC tourney). He wasn’t great. He took too many shots, but he played pretty good. But it got him and kick started him for what happened today,â€ Calipari said. â€œAnd I got to give credit to Michael for that, and there’s just not that many players who would say, let him start. Let me come off the bench. Let’s get him going. We need Darius in this NCAA Tournament. That’s basically what he said to me.â€
Wiltjer update: Calipari also said after Saturdayâ€™s game that freshman Kyle Wiltjer was okay after taking a nasty fall on his back in the first half.
He said he didnâ€™t put Wiltjer back into the game â€œonly because of the game we had going.â€
Wiltjer had hit a 3-point shot before he took the spill.
â€œIt was a huge shot. He defended and did some pretty good shots. He got hurt, and I took him out. But Kyle is a terrific player for us,â€ Calipari said.