LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky forward Perry Stevenson looked
puzzled when asked about Patrick Patterson's 21-point, 18-rebound
performance in a victory over Auburn on Wednesday night despite
playing with a badly bruised middle finger on his right hand.
"Something's wrong with this finger?" Stevenson asked. "He
never complains about it. ... I don't know, maybe we need to break
the other finger."
Patterson admits the heavy amount of tape he's using to protect
the digit - which he stressed is jammed and not broken - makes it
difficult for him to catch the ball.
It didn't look like he was having problems during any of his 39
minutes against the Tigers as Kentucky (15-4, 4-0 Southeastern
Conference) pulled away late to move into sole possession of first
place in the SEC's Eastern Division.
"A beast," said Auburn guard Rasheem Barrett after spending
most of the night helping double or triple-team Patterson. "(He's)
a beast, plain as day."
It's an assessment echoed by Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, who
just shakes his head when talking about his talented center.
"Beast is a good word for it," Gillispie said. "Man alive,
he's something else."
Patterson almost blushes at the praise, then again he knows he'd
better take it where he can get it from his almost impossible to
"To get a compliment out of coach Gillispie you know you have
to be doing something right," Patterson said. "A beast is
something that is unstoppable and hard to guard down low under the
Patterson looked unguardable at times against the Tigers,
scoring five points during a 12-0 second-half run that helped the
Wildcats turn a 51-48 deficit into a 60-51 lead. He caught a tricky
entry pass from teammate Michael Porter in the post and converted a
short hook while drawing the foul to put Kentucky back in front. He
capped the run with another little hook shot in the lane.
Even though Patterson shot a so-so 7-of-13 from the field, he
was able to get to the free throw line. He went 7-of-9 from the
line, including 6-of-8 in the first half to help Kentucky scratch
out a 34-33 halftime lead.
"We talked about and worked on not fouling him when he got the
ball and he still got to the line way too much and did some damage
there," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo.
Patterson proved just as effective in the open floor. During one
sequence late in the first half, he rebounded a shot by Auburn's
DeWayne Reed, dribbled to halfcourt then hit a streaking Ramon
Harris for a layup at the buzzer.
"It was a heck of a play," Gillispie said.
One that helped Patterson overcome the mini-slump he's been in
since conference play began. Patterson's scoring and rebounding
totals had dipped significantly over the last two weeks. He entered
the SEC portion of Kentucky's schedule averaging nearly 20 points
and 10 rebounds a game, numbers that dropped to 11.7 points and 6.0
rebounds per game in his first three conference games.
"He hasn't really scored a lot in the first couple games in
conference, but that doesn't mean he's not making two defenders
guard him," said coach Billy Gillispie. "We have to do a better
job of helping him."
Patterson has little doubt the help will eventually come.
Stevenson had 13 points and 12 rebounds against the Tigers and the
Wildcats can get off to their best SEC start in four years with a
win at Alabama on Saturday.
"If I keep rebounding, that limits the opponent's offense,
especially when my teammates are playing great defense on the
perimeter," he said. "The sky is the limit for this team."