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UK's Porter declares himself ready to play after collision

12/6/2008 - Kentucky Wildcats

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Despite a laceration that required 10
stitches above his left eye, Kentucky guard Michael Porter
practiced Friday and declared himself fit to play when the Wildcats
(5-2) host No. 21 Miami (4-2).

Porter, who was injured when he collided earlier this week with
teammate Ramon Harris, acknowledged he likely will be sporting a
headband. It's an article of clothing he despises, but it helps him
see.

"This morning I woke up and my eye was completely swollen
shut," Porter said Friday after practicing with his Kentucky
teammates. "We tried a headband to pull the skin up. I guess
that's what I've got to do."

As Porter prepares to suit up, and possibly even start, in one
of Kentucky's biggest early-season tests, the long-term prognosis
for Harris is less certain. He was walking and visited his
teammates during practice this week, but coach Billy Gillispie said
it's too soon to consider when -- and even if -- he'll be able to
play again this season.

A news release sent later Friday from UK's medical staff was
more optimistic that Harris could return to practice at some point
this season. He has symptoms of muscular pain in his neck and back
and must wear a protective cervical collar.

"You're talking about guys having tingling in their fingers and
toes," Gillispie said. "Basketball's really important, but it's
not nearly as important as those kind of things."

The junior forward was preparing to run the floor Wednesday
night in Kentucky's victory over Lamar when he hit heads with
Porter. While Porter was able to be helped off the floor, Harris
lay motionless for several minutes before paramedics took him away
on a stretcher with his mother at his side. He stayed the night in
the hospital.

Porter saw Harris Thursday and told him he was praying for him.
He says when the collision occurred, he thought he'd run into one
of the opposing players from Lamar.

"I didn't realize it was Ramon and they said something about
Ramon going off on a stretcher," Porter said. "That kind of
surprised me. It scared me for a minute. I didn't know how bad it
was."

The scrappy guard says he doesn't have a problem envisioning
himself back on the floor. In fact, he has watched replays of the
collision multiple times and barely cringed when his doctor said
bone was protruding from his forehead before he got stitches.

And, when blood seeped from his head onto his uniform while he
was stretched out on the medical table, his original instinct was
against cleaning it up.

"I didn't want to put a towel on," he said. "I wanted to look
tough."

The Wildcats will need Porter and the rest of their healthy
players at full-strength against Miami, which Gillispie says
features a more athletic frontcourt than any the Wildcats will face
in the Southeastern Conference. The Hurricanes are paced by Jack
McClinton, who averages 15.2 points a game, and Dwayne Collins,
averaging 12.7 points and 10.2 rebounds.

"We just have to keep competing on the defensive end and the
offense will work for us," forward Perry Stevenson said. "Coach
preaches that every day, getting down and guarding people, being a
competitor. That's why we're here, at one of the greatest places to
play basketball."