Wednesday, February 12, 2003

UK Notebook

Daniels - and armpit - talk of the town

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEXINGTON - Erik Daniels is tiring of the basketball world asking about his armpit.

Listed as questionable for a second consecutive game, the Kentucky junior forward again managed not only to play but to produce. Daniels scored 12 points Tuesday in the 87-67 victory over Georgia, following up his career-high, 20-point effort Saturday at Mississippi.

"It didn't hinder me," Daniels said of the infected gland under his right arm. "I'm not in any pain. It felt better than it did Saturday."

The Princeton High graduate underwent minor surgery Sunday to drain fluid from the growth, which appeared a week ago and had been as big as a golf ball.

He is wearing a T-shirt under his jersey to hide it.

"I'm doing well, so I'll probably wear (the T-shirt) a bit even after this goes away," he said.

Daniels remains the biggest surprise of the season.

He is averaging 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds, after posting averages of 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds last winter.

He entered Tuesday with the team's best shooting percentage, 59.4 percent, up from 46 percent last season.

What he has done best, though, is remain unselfish. Daniels has totaled 53 assists to 27 turnovers.

His 2.55-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in league play ranks third in the Southeastern Conference among those with more than five assists.

NEW DIMENSION: Cliff Hawkins saw the Bulldogs daring him to shoot 3-pointers, and the plan looked solid when he airballed an early attempt.

But he would finish 3-of-6 from 3-point range, tying a career high for made 3-pointers. He had made just seven of them on the season before Tuesday.

"I've been looking for my shot," he said. "When I found they were leaving me open, I got a little anxious. But I settled down and was able to get my feet set and find the range."

UK made 11 3-pointers, matching a season high set against Tennessee State.

STUNNED: Georgia coach Jim Harrick was in awe discussing the Wildcats.

"They're doing everything well," he said. "They're playing ... like a championship team.

"They're defending; they're rebounding; they're shooting. Their defense is very, very good, but their offense is outstanding."

Harrick, who has faced the nation's toughest schedule according to the RPI, said he hasn't seen a better team.

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