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Cousins growing up quickly for Cats

    DeMarcus Cousins doesn

Kentucky's Demarcus Cousins (15) battles for the ball with South Carolina's Sam Muldrow (44) during the first half in Columbia, S.C. Muldrow won the ball -- and the Gamecocks won the game, stunning No. 1 UK, 68-62.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn't answer questions
after games so much as he holds court.
The gregarious freshman center is as refreshingly unfiltered as
head coach John Calipari is polished. Blunt and direct, Cousins is
unapologetically honest whether the topic is his sometimes
eccentric postgame attire or his ability to attract controversy
wherever he goes.
Yes, Cousins thinks he may be the best center in the
Southeastern Conference. Yes, he believes the referees swallow
their whistles sometimes when the ball is in his hands. Yes, he may
have pushed a South Carolina student out of the way while trying to
get off the court last week, but he didn't punch him as at least
one reporter claimed.
Hey, it's all a part of the game when you're "Big Cuz," one of
the handful of monikers Cousins goes by.
"I'm just doing my part," Cousins said from behind his
nonprescription black-rimmed glasses, part of what he calls his
"Peter Parker" swag.
And he's playing his part as well as any player in the country.
Powered by nimble footwork, soft hands and a relentless
intensity that sometimes gets him in trouble, the 6-foot-11,
260-pound Cousins is challenging the notion that heralded teammate
John Wall is the most NBA-ready player on the fourth-ranked
Wildcats (20-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference), who host No. 25 Ole
Miss (16-5, 4-3) on Tuesday.
Cousins is averaging 16.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks a
game, good numbers that become staggering when Cousins' limited
court time is factored in. He plays barely half the game - 21
minutes a night - because of his inability to stay out of foul
trouble.
"A lot has been made about John Wall, because he is a terrific
player, and deservedly so," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings.
"But Cousins, even though at a different position, is just as much
a factor right now for their team."
Stallings got an eyeful on Saturday when Cousins scored 21
points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes of Kentucky's 85-72 victory.
The Commodores thought they had the right game plan to slow
Cousins down, double-teaming him with A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffery
Taylor whenever Cousins touched the ball in the post.
"We told our players what he would do when he was
double-teamed, and he did it," Stallings said.
The Commodores just couldn't stop it.
Cousins dunked on Kentucky's first possession, then spun around
Ogilvy for a layup while getting fouled the next time down the
floor, one of four three-point plays Cousins converted in the
opening 10 minutes to help the Wildcats build a 16-point lead.
"I saw a lot of stuff saying I never played against a real big
man and (Ogilvy) is the best big man in our conference," Cousins
said. "Not even close."
All that contact, however, comes with a price. Cousins
complained of a sore chin after getting smacked around against the
Commodores. The referees rewarded his effort with 13 trips to the
foul line. It's a number he thinks should increase.
When told that a television analyst called him the most fouled
player in the country, Cousins didn't miss a chance to stick up for
himself.
"I totally agree," he said. "I get fouled a lot. I'm used to
it now."
He's also used to trudging toward the bench after picking up yet
another foul like he did after collecting his second foul with 9:22
to go in the first half against the Commodores. Cousins spent the
rest of half uneasily watching the Wildcats maintain the
comfortable margin he helped establish.
Then again, getting some unwanted rest is nothing new. Cousins
has committed at least four fouls in 10 games and added his first
technical foul of the season for arguing midway through the second
half against Vanderbilt.
Cousins said he's done his best to clean up his act and tries to
chat up the referees to let them know he's not some foul-prone
monster.
Apparently, the charm offensive isn't working. The responses
Cousins receives are cordial if not exactly forthcoming, and the
buddy-buddy act has done little to stop the whistles.
"They say 'I'm doing great, how are you?"' Cousins said.
Depends on the situation.
For all his precociousness, Cousins is still just 19 and
maturity remains an issue even as Calipari has praised his renewed
work ethic.
Cousins drew the ire of Louisville fans when he appeared to
intentionally throw an elbow at forward Jared Swopshire during a
scramble for a loose ball in a tense 71-62 win at Rupp Arena last
month. Last week he denied a claim by a reporter who said Cousins
swung at a South Carolina student while trying to get off the floor
after the Gamecocks pulled off the upset.
"I never threw a punch, I don't know where that came from,"
Cousins said.
Though Calipari has tried to smooth out some of the rough edges
of his talented but sometimes tempestuous star, Cousins' teammates
know that emotion is part of what drives him.
Patrick Patterson called Cousins one of the elite centers in the
country, and isn't worried about the player teammates call
"Boogie" blowing a fuse at the wrong time.
"DeMarcus knows not to get too mad," Patterson said. "He can
get mad, but not mad to the point where he costs us the game."
Cousins knows there's no fun in that.


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