BOZICH | Andrew Harrison Taking His Spot Next To Wall, Knight, Teague
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – At Kentucky, point guards are not judged by how they are playing compared to guys at Arizona, Syracuse or other national contenders. At Kentucky, point guards are judged against the players who have preceded them during the John Calipari Era.
You know the names – John Wall, Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague, first-round NBA draft picks all.
So write this nugget down. Use it as your answer the next time somebody asks how Andrew Harrison is progressing compared to the three guys Calipari sent to the pros after one college season:
On Saturday when Kentucky defeated Tennessee, 74-66, in Rupp Arena the most extraordinary thing Andrew Harrison contributed was not the 26 points he scored, even though it was easily his career high. Harrison played 33 formidable minutes without turning the ball over a single time while making all 10 of his free throws.
Wall never did that. Wall never played a single turnover-free game for the Wildcats. He made 10 free throws just once, in his first game as a Wildcat, but he needed 14 attempts.
Knight never did that – and Knight always played with terrific poise. He played a pair of turnover-free games, but not on the afternoon he went 10 for 10 from the line against Indiana.
Teague actually delivered three games without a turnover, but he left UK without a single game when he shot 10 free throws. He wasn't that kind of scorer.
No turnovers and a perfect-10 from the line, that is an Andrew Harrison original.
"He did good stuff," Calipari said. "He played like a point guard."
Mark Saturday down as the second time in three games that Andrew Harrison has played a turnover-free game. He also did that at Vanderbilt a week earlier. It was also second time in five games that Harrison got to the free throw line at least 10 times because he shot a dozen while scoring 18 points, his previous career high, three weeks ago against Louisville.
He is doing good things, lots of them. His assist total, only three Saturday, could improve, but it's only mid-January.
Harrison's numbers over the last five games are worth noting: Starting with the Louisville game, he has averaged 13.8 points and only 2.4 turnovers while getting to the free throw line 32 times. Kentucky (13-4, 3-1) has only lost once – in overtime at Arkansas – during that stretch.
People have stopped talking about Harrison's brusque body language and started talking about the bewildering body language of the guys who are trying to contain him. It hasn't been an easy task.
At 6 feet 6, he is usually taller than anybody who tries to defend him. So when Harrison wants to maneuver for a clear look from the perimeter, he gets a clear look.
But that is not the strength of Harrison's game. It isn't what he enjoys doing. Harrison is an attack guy. He wants to be in the lane. He wants to show the other guys he can surge right past them. He wants to prove that he cannot be stopped going to the basket.
"I know I'm not playing as well as I can," Harrison said. "That's what I'm trying to do, just coming from hard work and being in the gym.
"Just making decisions, finishing through contact and stuff, no matter what the call is or whatever. Just finishing through more contact, being more physical and exploding."
Here is what I have noticed about the way that Harrison is playing. He is taking control of games, especially in the second half. Julius Randle remains Mr. Double-Double for the Wildcats. But there are games when Randle is absolutely more dominant in the first half than he is in the second.
Saturday was one of those games. Randle had 16 points in the first half, two in the second.
Andrew Harrison has been there to finish the job. Of his 26 against the Vols, 16 came in the second half, eight in the final 5 ½ minutes, winning time.
"It's frustrating when you hear people that say you are not as good as you think you are," Harrison said. "I feel that it is my responsibility to step up as the point guard of this team."
People won't be saying that much longer if Harrison keeps playing the way he's played over the last five games.
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