Liggins finally emerging for Kentucky

DeAndre Liggins has played 25 or more minutes in six of Kentucky's past eight games. Mark Zerof/US Presswire

DeAndre Liggins was best known in Chicago as the Big Ticket. He was the 6-foot-6 guard at Washington who with his big smile and aptitude for triple-doubles was always worth the price of admission.

Kentucky couldn't wait to get him. Liggins opted for the Wildcats over Illinois, Kansas, Texas and Memphis [his future Kentucky coach John Calipari originally missed out on him]. Liggins had the potential to be a game-changer and future pro with his extraordinary passes, adequate scoring ability and size. Former Wildcats coach Billy Gillispie once said he thought Liggins could be as good as Dee Brown and Deron Williams was for the Illini.

The Big Ticket, the DeAndre Liggins that Chicago best remembers, though, wasn't the same player Kentucky got to know through 1½ college seasons. From refusing to enter a game as a freshman to riding the bench for most of Gillispie's final Kentucky days to not playing at all the first nine games under Calipari this season due to an undisclosed reason, Liggins has been mostly a headache to his coaches. His disappointing play has achieved a rarity on message boards -- agreement.

That was until South Carolina handed Kentucky its first loss of the season on Jan. 26 and made the Wildcats stay at No. 1 short-lived. Ever since, Liggins has become a key piece in Kentucky's plan. He has played 25 or more minutes in six of the team's past eight games and averaged 5.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks during that span.

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