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Miller taking care of business off the pine

Not too long ago we learned that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist told Coach Cal that he would gladly come off the bench so that senior Darius Miller could start. At the time, Doron Lamb was actually playing the role of sixth man and Cal never took MKG up on his request.  Instead, Lamb remained on the bench while Miller started four games early in the SEC schedule. For the last two games, though, Miller has returned to being UK’s sixth man, and if they’re any indication of how he plans on playing out the remainder of his games at Kentucky, I hope Cal continues to ignore Kidd-Gilchrist’s lineup suggestions.

Against Georgia and LSU, Miller has been arguably UK’s best overall player, and he’s done it from the bench. In a game at Athens where offense was hard to come by, Miller managed to tie his season high in scoring in one of the most efficient games I’ve ever seen. He was 7-8 from the field and 4-4 from outside, scoring 19 points to account for 1/3 of UK’s total in only 23 minutes on the floor. Against LSU he wasn’t as close to perfect but still went for 13 and hit 3-5 threes in a game that was much more balanced for the Cats. Over the last two games Miller has shot 12-17 (70.6%) from the field and 7-9 (77.8%) on three-pointers, making him by far Kentucky’s most efficient player. If you include the two prior games in which he started, he’s shooting 63.3% from the field and 62.5% from outside over the four game stretch. That’s ridiculous.

It’s not just the numbers that have been impressive over the last two weeks, though. Starting with his desire to take big shots and free throws down the stretch against Alabama, Miller has seemed to begin to take ownership of the team. He has been more vocal and energetic than we are used to seeing him, and has appeared to be locked in and looking for his shot in a way that makes him a different player and the Cats a different team. All season they have tried different players off the bench to find the best rotation, and with what Miller offers he is the perfect piece to the puzzle if he continues playing like this. He can come in for any of the four non-Anthony Davis starters, and in a pinch even for Davis if Terrence Jones slides to the middle. He can defend any position and is versatile enough to be a matchup problem for anyone guarding him. In short, he’s exactly what the team needs in a sixth man.

I know that people will tell me to hold my horses because Darius has had stretches like this before only to leave us wanting more in the end. However, I think that this situation is different because he’s being asked to do it off the bench. That takes some of the pressure off of him and allows him to just play his game when called upon. The last two years he was inconsistent while starting 69 of the 76 games, but with a more well-defined role as the sixth man I believe he can be more comfortable and excel as a result. That comfort, combined with his likely realization that this is the home stretch of his career at UK, leads me to believe that we will see a lot more of the Darius Miller from the last two games than the one that has frustrated us in the past. If I’m wrong you can all yell at me. If I’m right? Kentucky has one more thing separating itself from the rest of college basketball.

Article written by Hunter Campbell

I used to write here.

23 Comments for Miller taking care of business off the pine

  1. Mike
    6:12 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    Just what you want from your senior going into Feb and March.

  2. 2KATS
    6:13 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    if we won the championship, winning it for miller would mean more to me than it being our 8th

  3. Rupp-is-awake-now
    6:14 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    I think the Ferrari is finally out of 1st now. The team is killing it. Looks to be just in time as the real tests are coming in February!!!

  4. Jimmy
    6:19 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    you know it’s sad to love a team more than life it self, but I just can’t help it. I LOVE THIS TEAM!!!!

  5. Jesus
    6:22 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    @2 You are crazy

  6. Iamblue1
    6:26 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    I am a huge Darius fan, as many times as I have cussed

  7. Han
    6:26 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    No longer either Disappearius or Reappearius Miller. Lately he has been Dangerous Miller. Or if you prefer, On-A-Tearius Miller.

  8. uktrackgeezer
    6:29 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    His demeanor and his comments in the post-game interviews were right on point and respectfully spoken like a senior and a leader.
    I’m very proud of all our Cats and especially happy to see Darius playing so well and embracing his role.
    GO CATS!

  9. Iamblue1
    6:31 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    Him out I have always rooted for him even harder, and if he has decided to play the rest of the season in beast mode then we will hang #8.

  10. Iamblue1
    6:33 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry, posted from my cell and double posted

  11. dave
    6:38 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    kid’s doin work.
    when darius gets 8+ shots he’s more effective & the team is very tough. and having darius, davis & clarence take the most shots could also mean more than just wiltjer return next year.

  12. Hicks
    6:41 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    Remember almost a year ago when we got on here and spent hours arguing over who was going to start? Seems pointless now dosen’t it? Well either way, I TOLD YOU SO.

  13. catsfan54
    6:43 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink


    Darius and TJ are stepping it up and starting to get a feel for their roles. When Doron comes along here soon it’s on…..

  14. Maysville's Finest
    7:03 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    Miller TIME!!!!! His team, His State, His Legacy… All I can picture is the big blue tour buses driving into the center of Rupp Arena to unload the 8th nation title trophy and cars flipping on euclid at woodland… The question is, I can decide if I’d rather be in rupp or on euclid.

  15. Designated drinker
    7:04 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    If AD is the nations best defender, which he is. Then Darius has to be in conversation for the 2nd best.

  16. rckatao
    7:13 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    I love Darius, he has always been my favorite player, BUT … he is not even the second best defender on this team, much less the nation.

  17. Han
    8:34 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    15) Watch Jones play sometime. He was our defensive anchor in the middle in many games last year and he gets 2-3 blocks a game this year.

  18. HackRichards
    8:52 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    YEP I seen this in the Alabama game. Darius wanted the ball. When he got it – he delivered. I thought then – He is taking ownership of this team. I believe he will lead this team to number 8. Not only because of his skills – BUT because he is KENTUCKY.

  19. scottiefloppson
    10:02 pm January 29, 2012 Permalink

    Can the NCAA restore my eligbility ? I wanna play for Cal

  20. BlakeWarren
    7:59 am January 30, 2012 Permalink

    Definitely what you like to see coming from a senior at this point in the season. He has displayed nothiing but class with his effort and produciton off of the bench. He has been a excellent leader and example for the younger gentlemen on the team. I almost would like to see him in the starting 5 for a game or two to see how that plays out. It’s worth a shot.

  21. kentuckyluke
    8:31 am January 30, 2012 Permalink

    Been a Cat fan for many years. Darius Miller may be my favorite player of any Kentucky team. I really admire him for the tremendous overall game he possesses, his visible character, and just the class with which he has conducted himself. His parents, I am certain, are very proud of him and they did a fine job of raising him.

  22. Walsh is gay
    10:50 am January 30, 2012 Permalink

    He’s one of those player that when he shoots, you expect it to go in.

  23. George Brett says
    11:22 am January 30, 2012 Permalink

    Now the question is, who replaces him next year? Scary thought.