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November 23, 2012

Goodwin flirts with triple-double in Kentucky win

Somebody told Archie Goodwin.

Kentucky was wrapping up a 104-75 win against Long Island University-Brooklyn on Friday night at Rupp Arena, and somebody let slip to the Wildcat freshman that he was closing in on just the school's second-ever triple-double.

"They told me with like three minutes left," Goodwin said afterward. "I wish they wouldn't have told me, because then I started to think too much about it too much and was trying to get it. But it was still a good night for me, so I can live with it."

Good enough for Goodwin to stuff the stat sheet with 22 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, a solid effort for a guy who arrived as a part-time point guard and is being thrown into the starter's role at that position in the continued and mysterious absence of Ryan Harrow.

But not quite good enough for Goodwin to net that triple-double - the win, Goodwin said, is "really all that matters" - and not quite good enough to satisfy his coach, John Calipari, who shrugged off the notion that he might have known Goodwin was knocking on the door of that triple-double.

"No," Calipari said. "If I thought that, I would have thought 10 turnovers, too. So it's a quadruple double."

Actually, Goodwin finished with three turnovers, one of them late in the game when he admitted he was trying to hard to get the triple-double. He shot 8-for-14, made 5-of-7 free throws and knocked down his only three-point try.

"He's a tough guard," LIU coach Jack Perri said. "He gets all the way to the rim both to his left and to his right. He made shots too... . He gets fouled a ton. He's a talented kid; he's a big-time player."

And almost a full-time point guard.

Harrow, Kentucky's projected starter at the point, missed his fourth straight game after first battling an illness and then going home for what Calipari has described as family reasons, though he hinted Wednesday that Harrow's absence is due to a personal matter.

Calipari's hope is that Harrow will return to the team on Saturday and will practice on Sunday. Harrow will have to "work his way back," Calipari said. He's behind not only Goodwin, but backup point guard Jarrod Polson in the pecking order.

"I'm going to coach (Harrow)," Calipari said. "If someone is better, he's not playing. If he's better, he'll play in time."

For now, though, Goodwin looks like Kentucky's point guard, more in the mold of Tyreke Evans - who played for Calipari in Memphis - than Derrick Rose or John Wall.

"He's capable of (playing like Evans)," Calipari said. "He only took 14 shots. Still, there are four or five plays he made where he tried to make the hardest play he could make. Those all led to turnovers. So the three turnovers he had with that."

But Goodwin is a dynamic playmaker. He has a knack for getting hacked, and Goodwin said his ability to attack through bumps was forged in the rough neighborhoods of Little Rock, Ark., where he grew up and played street ball.

"Those guys out there, they're just playing to win," Goodwin said. "Whatever you can do to win out there, you got to to do. If it's throwing somebody on the ground, they'll do it. And if you call the wrong fouls, you're going to argue all night, and there may be a couple fights."

So Goodwin played through. He's still doing it.

And on Friday, he helped lead a balanced Kentucky attack - Alex Poythress had 22 points and nine rebounds, Nerlens Noel 18 points, eight rebounds, five blocked shots and five assists, Julius Mays 15 points and six assists and Willie Cauley-Stein 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks - that overcame a slow start against the Blackbirds (0-4).

For the most part, Goodwin made the offense click. He's been taking direction from Calipari, he said, and spending time on his own in the gym working to hone his point guard skills.

Still, there are times when Goodwin misses playing the bulk of his minutes at shooting guard.

"That's my natural position," Goodwin said. "It allows me to be a lot more aggressive as far as attacking, but at the same time, I still have the instinct to look for others."

But if Goodwin's asked to run the show, he'll accept the role. Point guard's starting to grow on him.

"Whatever happens in the future happens," Goodwin said. "I can't predict it. But if it's me playing point, then I'll be able to do it."


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