By LARRY VAUGHT
10:09 AM EST, February 21, 2013
LEXINGTON — Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings made sure to let Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel that he was thinking about him after his season-ending injury.
The Kentucky freshman watched UK beat Vanderbilt 74-70 in Rupp Arena Wednesday after having his year ended when he tore the ACL in his left knee last week at Florida.
“I am very disappointed for the young man that tore his ACL. That is a shame. I had a daughter that tore her ACL three times, so I am familiar with the injury and my heart goes out to him. Our best wishes go out to him,” said Stallings.
Kentucky lost by 30 points at Tennessee Saturday in its first game without Noel.
“I think one of two things generally happens with that (when a star player is hurt). Either the next game the team pulls together and overcomes the loss with emotion, effort and energy where everyone plays above themselves — which it’s pretty apparent that that wasn’t what happened on Saturday,” Stallings said. “Then, generally speaking, if that doesn’t happen they need some time to re-orient and get used to what else is going to take place.”
Vanderbilt center Josh Henderson, who had 13 points and two rebounds Wednesday, said facing UK without Noel was different.
“He is a great player. He is really good at protecting the rim. He is one of the most athletic guys,” Henderson said. “He led the SEC in rebound and blocks. It definitely opened up the lane and it definitely took away a big presence they have.”
New video: Kentucky had a new pregame video for fans featuring players talking about having more fight.
“We are starting over basically. We are missing a key person and this is another roadblock that was in our way again,” UK freshman Archie Goodwin said. “We feel like that was another way of showing that we are turning over a new leaf and starting over like it’s the beginning of the season for us.
“It was a great video. I actually, in my opinion, like it better than the last one. It was just a video of motivation and we all liked it and it was pretty good.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he had “nothing to do with” the new video.
“I said, look, I'm just trying to coach my team. You guys put videos together, whatever you want. So I didn't see it,” Calipari said.
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