Julius Randle remembers coming to the University of Kentucky as a recruit and seeing oversized photos of the program’s past stars and great moments adorning the walls of the Joe Craft Center. This week, a new image went up at the team’s practice facility: a freeze-frame of Randle being swarmed by jubilant teammates after he hit the game-winning shot in overtime Saturday against LSU. “It’s just right there, a big picture when I walked in,” Randle said. “I’ve taken visits here and you see all the guys that came through — you see them on the wall — and you’ve got a picture of all of us on the wall. It’s a pretty cool thing.” The moment in that picture might’ve represented a breakthrough for the 17th-ranked Wildcats (21-6, 11-3 Southeastern Conference), who finally found a way to finish off a tight game and at last displayed some genuine joy for the children’s game they play. “It was severely needed,” center Marcus Lee said. “We really needed that moment where we all just came together. We needed that moment of passion. That was a real big main point of the hump we needed to get over.” Tonight, in the second leg of its Revenge Tour, Kentucky will try to keep the good times rolling when it hosts Arkansas (18-9, 7-7). Their last meeting wasn’t much fun for the Cats, who lost 87-85 on a Michael Qualls put-back dunk in overtime. They’ve changed a lot since then. “This time, we’ll box out,” for starters, Lee joked. “No, this time we’ll play with a little more fire.” That’s one of the reasons UK’s coach staff hung the celebration photo so quickly, to serve as a daily reminder to this team full of McDonald’s All-Americans that has spent most of the season playing with the weight of the world — and unrealistic expectations — on its shoulders. “You want them to have fun. They’ve been through the trials and tribulations of the season. They’ve put in a lot of hard work, and you want them to go out there and enjoy their rewards,” said assistant coach Orlando Antigua, who stood in for head coach John Calipari on Wednesday. “(Eventually) it clicks and they’re enjoying it. They’re competing and enjoying the fact that they’re competing together, working together and seeing results.
Randle offers Wildcats new picture of success
Louisville Courier-Journal | Feb 27