- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

LEXINGTON, KY. (AP) - Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight has spent all season trying to live up to the high expectations that come with playing point guard for John Calipari.

The expectations don’t come from Calipari, but from Knight himself.

The straight-A student is well aware everything he does will be compared to the other electric playmakers who have directed Calipari’s sometimes freewheeling dribble-drive offense, a list that includes current NBA stars Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall.

“A lot of people say it’s pressure, I look at is as exciting,” Knight said. “That’s why I’m here.”

Though Knight lacks Wall’s speed, Evans’ size and Rose’s gift for squeezing into tight spaces, Calipari says his latest point guard protege makes up for it in sheer tenacity.

“All the players I’ve coached, and I had guys that would live in the practice facility, literally, I’ve never seen a guy with this kid’s work ethic,” Calipari said. “His focus is on ‘where are my weak areas?’ And he goes after them.”

It’s the only way Knight knows.

And it’s why he’s been able to do something Wall or Rose never accomplished during their brief college careers: Score 30 points in an NCAA tournament victory.

Knight’s performance helped the fourth-seeded Wildcats (27-8) surge past West Virginia last Saturday and into the NCAA tournament regional semifinals. Kentucky faces top-seeded Ohio State (34-2) in Newark, N.J., on Friday.

It’s a destination that appeared iffy at best during a rocky regular season.

The Wildcats struggled when things got tight in January and February, Knight in particular.

Several times he had the ball in his hands and a chance to tie or win the game only to watch his final shot clang off the rim.

It happened at Florida. It happened at Arkansas, twice, once in regulation and again in overtime.

Knight remained undaunted, however, thanks to a mental toughness and a case of selective memory. When he misses a game-winner, he lets it go. To Knight, worrying about what might have been is pointless.

It’s why Calipari didn’t hesitate when Kentucky found itself tied with Princeton in the final seconds of their second-round game last week. He put the ball in Knight’s hands even though Knight had missed all seven of his field-goal attempts to that point.

Story Continues →