Kentucky is back in the Top 25 for the
first time in more than a year, but that wasn't what had Billy
Gillispie in a good mood on Monday.
Sure, getting some national attention for solid play is nice,
not quite as nice as getting Ramon Harris back on the floor.
Harris fainted while walking out of the locker room to start the
second half of Saturday's 61-51 win at Alabama. He was taken to a
local hospital before joining the team for the trip back to
Lexington. He sat out practice and underwent a thorough series of
tests on Monday before being cleared to play.
The junior forward is expected to be available on Tuesday when
the 24th-ranked Wildcats (16-4, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) try
out their new ranking at Mississippi (10-9, 1-4).
"It is a scary situation and as far as all the check-ups and
tests, everything has been fine although they haven't determined
what caused it to happen and that is a little scary," Gillispie
said. "We have great doctors and they have cleared him to play for
The fainting spell wasn't the first time Harris has been sent to
the hospital this season. He missed several games in December after
injuring his neck and back while colliding with teammate Michael
Porter during a win over Lamar.
There appears to be no correlation between those injuries and
the fainting, but it has been a sobering reminder to Gillispie and
the Wildcats about the team's priorities.
"It is always a major concern when one of your players has to
be taken from the court other than their own feet," Gillispie
said. "You have to trust the experts... Sometimes it makes you
understand what's important and it put things in perspective in a
The Wildcats head south with one of their key role players on
board hoping to prove that their reappearance in the Top 25 won't
be a cameo. Kentucky hasn't been ranked since early last season,
but seems to have regained some respect nationally after winning 11
of its last 12 games.
"We appreciate any attention that we get, but we understand
that we have a lot of improvement to make," he said. "The most
important thing about rankings is who is ranked No. 1 at the end."
To get have any shot of getting there, Gillispie knows his team
needs to stop turning the ball over. Jodie Meeks' 27 points and
some tough defense down the stretch helped the Wildcats overcome 23
turnovers against the Crimson Tide. Gillispie doesn't expect his
team to continue to get away with being so sloppy.
"Those kinds of mistakes have to be stopped," Gillispie said.
"We talk about it, but we don't harp on it. We just try to get
better. But it still is January and our teams usually start playing
better this time of year and we have too."
The Rebels have been beset by injuries all season and have
struggled without point guard Chris Warren, who went down with a
season-ending knee injury in December. Yet Gillispie remains wary,
particularly of guard David Huertas, who is averaging nearly 20
points a game.
"Everyone has a hard time with him and we barely beat them here
last year," Gillispie said. "We know that we are in for it."