By LARRY VAUGHT
Quade Green keeps watching the Tennessee game trying to figure out how he hurt his back. After missing three games, he says the back is 100 percent going into Saturday night’s game at West Virginia. However, he’s still not quite sure how he got hurt.
“I really don’t know what happened. I think the second time I got on the bench my back locked up,” the Kentucky freshman point guard said Friday after he has played in the last two games. “I’m feeling more like myself now. My back is 100 percent better so I’m getting back used to everything.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari has made it clear that UK has missed Green’s 3-point shooting and that for him to play, he has to make shots. Green thinks he can do more than just make shots.
“Everything I’ve been providing for them: playing defense, energy, being that leader, really. Same thing I’ve been doing,” he said.
Kentucky dropped out of the top 25 this week and one week ago lost at home to Florida, a rarity in Calipari’s tenure at UK. Green knows UK is an underdog at No. 7 West Virginia even if the Mountaineers have lost three of their last four games.
“We ain’t win no big games yet, so this is the game we’re going to win. We gotta come out and win it this time,” he said. “Ain’t no pressure, really. Being an underdog now. Everybody is used to it on our team, being an underdog. We just gotta come out and fight.”
Remember earlier this season Green guaranteed a win over Louisville and UK played perhaps its best game of the year to win.
“This is a must-win game for us because we’ve been losing. Everybody is doubting us, so we gotta punch them in their mouth,” Green said.
West Virginia might punch back. The Mountaineers always have a superb defense, and this year is no different. Calipari is expecting West Virginia to press and test Green and his teammates. Green joked that Calipari “threw the whole manager team” on the court at practice to make UK have to break what was an eight- to 10-man press.
Staying calm is a big key to breaking the press.
“Don’t let the pressure get to you. They’re going to be loud, they’re going to play defense, but that’s basketball though. It’s another basketball game to us,” Green said. “We already know how West Virginia is. They’re physical, so we have to be physical too. I’m very used to it. That’s all we do. In Philly, the park, regular, high school games, everybody is physical, everybody wants to fight some. I’m pretty used to that.”
West Virginia also has one of the nation’s best defensive guards in Jevon Carter, who ranks second nationally in steals per game.
“You gotta keep him moving. You gotta tire him. Gotta grind him out so he gets tired,” Green said.