Two-Game Dixie Road Swing Begins at Auburn

Jan. 18, 2013

Following a 75-65 victory over visiting Tennessee on Tuesday, the Wildcats will hit the road for back-to-back contests beginning with Auburn on Saturday. UK secured its sixth-straight win over the Volunteers behind an SEC career-high 17 points from sophomore Kyle Wiltjer. Freshman Nerlens Noel continued his steady presence with 12 points, nine boards, six blocks and four steals to propel the defensive effort.

Gameday Information
Kentucky at Auburn
Sat., Jan. 19 - 9:00 p.m. ET
Auburn, Ala.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | AU Get Acrobat Reader
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Online Audio
Text Updates

Kentucky will hit the road for two-straight in the Heart of Dixie with Auburn on Saturday before wrapping up the road swing at Alabama on Tuesday.

UK owns an 86-17 overall record against the Tigers which includes two wins over the Tigers' head coach Tony Barbee, who is a former player and assistant coach for John Calipari.

Scouting Auburn

The Tigers own an 8-8 overall record and a 2-1 mark in league competition. Auburn suffered its first loss in SEC action on Wednesday in a double-overtime loss at Arkansas by an 88-80 score.

Auburn has two players averaging double figures in points led by Frankie Sullivan's 17.8 per game. Chris Denson adds 15.2. Rob Chubb logs 9.9 points per game and a team-high 7.8 rebounds per outing.

Media Opportunity - Jan. 18, 2013

Head Coach John Calipari

On how Willie Cauley-Stein is doing with his injury …
"I think they made a statement. Old injury. He won't practice today. But, he's walking around so we'll see."

On the impact of Cauley-Stein being injured …
"Let me say this, I can't talk medically about it. The impact if he doesn't play is that we're one short of where we were, but against Duke he played six minutes. Maryland, he was not a factor. So, what happens is, other guys have to step up and play and Jarrod [Polson] has to get some minutes, maybe Jon Hood gets some minutes and is effective. But, obviously, we're not as big and long as we are with him."

On whether Cauley-Stein's injury means missing out on taking advantage of Auburn's smaller team …
"It would have been better for us to have another big guy. Again, we're presuming he's not going to play. The reason you look at this and say, 'That size helps you in this kind of game,' but we'll see."

On whether Elston Turner's low-scoring recently enforces the point that Kentucky is everyone's 'Super Bowl' for the players …
"I don't know. You'd have to ask them. [Vanderbilt] comes out of the gate the next game. Texas A&M comes out of the gate the next game. Auburn, they were talking about the game at the Arkansas game. It's just how it is when you're playing here. It's sold out. Last time [Auburn] sold out, last year, and they're going to be all over it. Their kids play extremely hard. Tony [Barbee] is doing an unbelievable job. These guys are being coached exactly how they've got to be coached. He's letting the guys that need to let go and play, he's letting those guys go. The other guys are playing within themselves. What's happened is, Auburn has bought into how they're going to have to play. We have not. Like individual players, it's not, 'Well, here's how we play, buy in.' No. 'Here's how you have to play, now buy in.' and, what he's got is, every guy is buying into, 'Well this is who I am and how I've got to play for us to have success.' We have not hit that yet. We're convinced that, 'Look I can do this and we can still play good.' Obviously, it doesn't look good to anybody else, but maybe as we go forward we'll start changing. This is one of those ones that maybe brings guys together."

On what Auburn did last year to give Kentucky a tough game …
"Playing extremely hard. They play extremely hard and they're very physical. They were physical with Anthony [Davis]. They played a lot of zone. I would predict that they'll play a lot of zone this game. They shot the ball really well in the first half. If I remember right, Darius [Miller] made a 3 at the buzzer at halftime to put us up, maybe, four or five. Tony is really good and he knows how we play. Some of the stuff they're running is the stuff that we run but a lot of it is his own stuff. He's doing good stuff. He's really good and I'm proud of him. I watched the tape and watched them beat Florida State. They had Illinois beat. It was a one-point game. They had the ball with two minutes to go, in Illinois, they had them beat. Illinois is top-20. They had Arkansas beat. They've won the other games in the league so they're on a roll of playing well and they're excited. It's going to be a different game."

On how soon he's hoping that Cauley-Stein will be able to return …
"I want him to come back tomorrow, obviously. Hopefully tomorrow. We'll see."

On whether it is fortuitous that Cauley-Stein's injury is just as Kyle Wiltjer is coming off his most solid game …
"We have been dealing with Willie, and again, it was an injury, I hate to tell you, since junior high school, for the last couple weeks. So, this just happened to where, 'Alright, let's go. Let's see.' But, it's all good. We're one short for a short while. Thank God it was nothing major. You get dings and bruises in this thing. You get hit, kicked, bumped, come down wrong on an ankle. There are all kinds of stuff that happen in this game. Some guys, you got to miss it. You miss a game or two."

On making changes …
"What you have to do is you have to be tired of your lot. You have to be tired of the way it is. Then you have to admit, I've got to make changes. What I'm doing is not working. Then you begin to change. It starts with, I don't like my lot in life. I don't like it. Second thing you say is, alright I'm here because of me, now there are things I'm going to have to change, then you change them and then things change for you. Isn't basketball like life? That's what I tell them all the time, it's like life."

On how Willie Cauley-Stein's absence will affect him …
"He's probably going to come back after a short period and be rested and ready to go, I would imagine. But he'll be weight training and doing anything else and running and all the other stuff. There were times where he was like, 'you've got to get me out.' We had a shoot around the other day and he stopped in the shoot around, I said, 'what are you doing just walking around like nothing?' Again, nothing major, it was an old thing that he just never did anything about. Let me say this, we didn't have to do anything. It could have been, 'you're fine, put the knee sleeve on and go. Deal with it.' But as you know, that's not how we operate here. If I err, I'm going to err on the side of the kid. Let's just be safe."

On motivating his players …
"You're playing at Kentucky, isn't it great that everywhere you go it's sold out; you're the biggest game on everybody's schedule, take great pride in that. That's why you came here. Let's prepare. We don't prepare any different for any of the games. Trying to get them a little more emotional and playing that way. I got a great call from a coaching friend of mine last night saying, 'look, you're so close to it and your team, individual players and your team are getting better. Just keep on the path.' And that's all we're going to do. I'm not worried about any other team in the country. All I'm worried about is my team getting better, that's it. I'll be honest with you; I'm not even watching games. I'm watching the tape of our team and practice. I just want our team to get better, whatever that means. We'll be fine."

On if he usually watches other games …
"I usually don't because then I'd be doing basketball 23 hours a day. I do enough. If there is one of my former assistants coaching I may watch his game so I can talk to him about it but that's about it."

On Alex Poythress being challenged …
"His growth is going to be step-by-step. There is not going to be moving to next month. Everything with Alex will be step-by-step and they're baby steps right now. That's OK, that's where he is. Every young man is different. Every young man comes in with a different mind, a different body, different conditioning, different toughness, different family background, different upbringing, they're all different. Some of them move more quickly, some of them don't move quickly at all. You just deal with it."

On Kyle Wiltjer changing …
"He's stepped on the practice stuff. He's gotten in the gym and done extra. He's becoming more aggressive and talking more in practice. Right now he's the most vocal player we have. When you do that you build your own self-esteem and self-confidence. The other side of it is you have to carry over what you're doing here to a game. I tell them, demonstrated performance is the only way you build your own confidence and self-esteem. It's not me saying, 'you're really good. You can really guard that [Elston] Turner kid. You're doing a great job.' Now he's got 36, 'I'm telling you, you're doing a great job.' It doesn't work that way. You build your own self-esteem and confidence through demonstrated performance, challenging yourself, recognizing what you've got to get better on, get better, go on to the game, carry over to the game and then start believing, 'I can do this.' It's just a process and we're doing it with, 17, 18-year-old kids.

Kentucky Players

#12, Ryan Harrow, G, Soph.

On if he tried to cheer up Willie Cauley-Stein
"Yeah, we are going to be there for him regardless. We have been telling him that we want him back on the floor whenever he can get back."

On his improvement …
"I think that I am getting better. There is still room for improvement. Me and Coach (John Calipari) have been watching film and looking at the things that I need to improve on. Just watching for when I might need to shoot the ball, or might need to pass, or not taking breaks on defense and keep playing defense."

On Auburn …
"I know that they play physical and it was a tough game last year. That is what I remember from last year. They are going to come out for us and try to beat us up. Every team tries to do that so we have to prepare for that."

#33, Kyle Wiltjer, F, Soph.

On whether specific things he has worked on led to his successful game against Tennessee …
"I'm just working hard every day in practice, just being aggressive. Just having that mindset of just not settling so I think that kind of paid off."

On how having a play called for him helped him to be successful …
"It kind of frees me, gets me some open looks early on in the game. My teammates find me the ball so it really just helps you get going."

On whether he is having more fun playing now …
"We always have fun. We all love basketball and love getting better. We just try to have that same mentality every day."

On whether Cauley-Stein's injury changes the substitution rotation …
"Yeah, he's a big part of our team. But, I feel like we have other big guys who can step up so we're just going to keep being positive."