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Running on Empty: Tubby calls for speed ... again.

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It's Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve.

It's 'A Christmas Story' where Ralphie gets his BB gun.

It's John Kerry's windsurfin' Christmas Card.

The annual fan placate-a-thon that is UK coach Tubby Smith talking about pushing the tempo occurred during Tuesday's media press conference in advance of tonight's Auburn game. As Smith said it:

After breaking down the film, we could have taken advantage of some of their defensive breakdowns and we didn't. That is what we have worked on the last couple of days, getting our guards to look to move the ball up the court, pitch it ahead, or throw the ball inside when people are open. ... We're looking for layups. We missed about 10 or 12 opportunities against Ole Miss where we could get easier baskets and not struggle with a half-court offense every possession."

Those who have followed this blog know that I'm certainly closer to a Tubby apologist than a Dynasty Offender, but even I roll my eyes at this one. Not because I don't believe Smith, but because the results haven't much given us reason to think it will happen.

Let's face it, Smith hates turnovers. He hates them more than he hates doing the call-in shows and press conferences combined. They go against everything he stands for -- protection, face-to-face defense, limiting easy buckets.

But when you run the floor, you inevitably throw the ball away more. More possessions means more turnovers, more missed shots, but hopefully more points. Tubby surely knows this, but it still seems he thinks his guys can manage to push the tempo and still get back and play the same tough half-court defense he espouses.

Color me skeptical. Not that I'd rather him say, "We're going to walk the ball up." But I cannot defend Mr. Smith to his critics who remain undeterred by his team's ever-lower scoring averages and measured approach. Anyone who watches enough games sees Smith screaming at his guys to push it, but they also see how quickly those same players turn to the bench when there's a turnover, quick missed shot or other mistake. 'The Hook' is fast and merciless.

So while a few fans will be encouraged to hear their coach speak of increasing easy buckets, I'll just look for better consistency and focus. Don't mistake my skepticism for resignation. I'll be pleased as punch if somehow these guys can lasso together tight 'D' and upbeat 'O.'

But if Tubby's proclamations of speed are an annual occurrence, so, too, at this point, are UK fans' rueful nods of doubt.