By The Associated Press
LEXINGTON, Ky. — If the way he handled Mississippi State fans is any indication, DeMarcus Cousins is more than ready to face Jarvis Varnado.
After some Mississippi State fans got hold of Cousins’ phone number, the Kentucky center received hundreds of calls and text messages ahead of Tuesday’s game.
“Some were racial, and others were girls like, ‘Let’s make out,’” Cousins said Monday. “I don’t know what to expect from Starkville.”
Cousins is eager to make up for his performance Saturday night against Tennessee. The freshman scored five points and made just 1 of 8 free throws in the Wildcats’ 73-62 win over the Volunteers.
Varnado and Cousins are the only players in the Southeastern Conference averaging double figures in points and rebounds — and Varnado’s 519 career blocks are second in NCAA history.
“They’re two different kinds of players,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “One is going to block shots and be active and be quicker to the ball. The other is just a hard matchup for teams.”
Mississippi State is seeking its first four-game winning streak in the series in school history. Varnado blocked seven shots in a 66-57 victory at Kentucky last season, and in 2008 he had 10 while recording a triple-double in a 69-64 win in Starkville.
The second-ranked Wildcats are working to avoid another big game by the Bulldogs’ star, who is averaging 13.3 points and 11.3 rebounds this season.
“Having DeMarcus in there, and when DeMarcus is out having Daniel (Orton) in there, and then Patrick (Patterson) is also in there, I think it will be a bit of a different story,” senior Perry Stevenson said. “At least we’re hoping for it.”
Cousins and Calipari both acknowledged that the freshman let his emotions get the better of him against Tennessee. Cousins gave Calipari a hug during Monday’s walkthrough, and the coach is confident Cousins has matured.
Just look at how well he handled all those nasty calls and messages on his phone.
“I’m glad it was his and not mine,” Calipari said. “He’s a fun-loving kid.”