UK Concludes Road Swing at Alabama Tuesday

Jan. 21, 2013

Following its most complete victory of the season within SEC action, the Wildcats conclude its two-game road swing through the Heart of Dixie at Alabama on Tuesday.

Gameday Information
Kentucky at Alabama
Tues., Jan. 22 - 9:00 p.m. ET
Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | UA Get Acrobat Reader
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Online Audio
Text Updates

Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer turned in another 17-point performance, while classmate Ryan Harrow reached double-figures for the eighth-straight game and dished out a UK career-high eight assists in the win. Freshman Nerlens Noel continued his imposing defensive prowess with a career-high seven blocks to couple with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Alabama enters the matchup following a one-point victory over Texas A&M on Saturday. The Anthony Grant led Crimson Tide are 11-6 overall on the season and own a 3-1 record within SEC play.

Scouting Alabama

The Crimson Tide own an 11-6 overall record and a 3-1 mark in league action. Alabama is paced by a trio of scorers in double-figures with Trevor Releford leading the way with 16.2 points per game. Alabama's opponents are winning the battle on the boards by a 32.4 to 32.1 margin. The Tide are coming off a one-point win over Texas A&M on Saturday and have also rung up league wins over Mississippi State and Tennessee.

Media Opportunity - Jan. 21, 2013

Head Coach John Calipari

On Willie Cauley-Stein practicing today …
"I don't know. I just walked in so I don't know if he's out there or not. If he doesn't practice I'll probably tell him to stay home and just keep getting treatment. If he practices we'll take him with us."

On the team being up 20 at Auburn …
"It was hard to imagine. The best thing was, I told them, everybody says, 'man they showed emotion, they chest bumped.' Well, when you're playing harder than the other guy, when you're beating them to loose balls, when you're coming up with tough rebounds you chest bump. It's hard to chest bump when you're getting sand kicked in your face, you're getting thrown to the floor and they're grabbing balls out of your hand. It's hard to run down there and go, 'yeah.' I mean, again, everything on this thing will come back to sustaining effort. If I have to coach effort it looks like I'm going crazy on the sideline. At some point I won't coach effort, I'll just say, 'if that's what you're going to do, that's where you're going to be, you're going to have to figure it out between yourselves.' But this team, I hope learned some stuff and I think Willie being out put a sense of urgency in the team; that sometimes happens."

On Nerlens Noel saying that he felt an added responsibility with Willie out …
"Well then he shouldn't have fouled then. Like on the layup. But I think they all did. Archie Goodwin played the best game he's played all year. Why? Because he didn't take eight bad shots. If he had made two free throws that he missed he would have scored almost as many as he scores taking all those bad shots. When you're playing for your team you'll score as many as you score yet our team looks better. We look more efficient. Ryan Harrow in the first half, played casual and it showed. Everybody, including me, wanted to see, 'OK what do you have in you, kid? What are you going to do in the second half?' And he came out and he played aggressive. He played tough, he played through bumps. Those two and Julius (Mays) are going to have to do that on this game. This is a guard's game; this is going to be guards going at one another."

On Ryan Harrow showing emotion …
"What I was telling him is, you played tough, instead of you driving, the guy bumps you and you go to the baseline and try to throw it, the guy bumped you, you bumped him back and made it. Then I just said, 'that's tough.' It's hard though because, look, they all want to, when I say they aren't buying in, it starts individually. It is, you have to play lower, you have to be more physical. 'Well I don't want to be.' You have to be. You have to take better shots. 'Well I've made those.' You're not making them now. You cannot leave your feet. Stay down, stay down. 'But I can block that shot at the free throw line from under the basket.' OK, well, you can do that. All the stuff we've been talking about, most of it is just we're starting to buy in individually and it's starting to show. Again, now this is a hard game. This is a really physically, grind it, bump you, grab you kind of team. If you're not ready for 50-50 balls, that you're going to be in a war on the court for 40 minutes, you've got relish it. That's what you want. But if you don't want that then it's an issue."

On the big guys impacting the game …
"Well both of them, they've got a big guy, so do we. Both of them can have a presence on the post where you can't just spread the court out because you can throw it into the post, we both do it. The second thing is, they get in there and rebound around the goal and block some shots. Both guys can do that but the reality of it is, their guards, their 1, 2, 3, even (Andrew) Steele are the driving force with their team. I'm not saying, but you know, the big guy is good, but the driving force is their guards."

On Kyle Wiltjer playing the high-low game well …
"In the zone. This team will play zone, but I am not for sure they will give us the middle like the other teams we've played. They will play a different zone and they do play a different zone. Their areas that are open are corners more than the middle, which is fine. But Kyle has done well. Kyle's effort level has been off the charts so when you talk about, 'Well he looks good,' his effort level. You are not going to shoot it great every night, but you can have an effort every night. You can come up with balls. You can sprint the court. You can help on a pick-and-roll, and check this out, get back to your own man. Not help on a pick-and-roll, bounce twice and the kid shots a 3 and you run back. No. he proved that last game he can do it, 'I can help on a pick-and-roll and still rush at my man. But man does it take effort.' Then he had to raise up (his hand), had to come out. No kidding? That is what we are trying to get from all of them, everybody."

On if he is happy …
"Yep, the team is making progress. The team is making progress and that is all I can ask. I keep coming back to wins and losses come and go, but these kids will not be defined by those things. They are going to be defined by how they play. Ten years from now when people look, it is going to be, 'Man that team played hard and they scrambled and they covered for each other, what great effort.' Or, it's not going to be the case. It is going to be, 'Man, no sense of urgency. Look like they don't care as much, blah blah blah.' Wins and losses. This team is all about sustaining effort. I thought Alex (Poythress) was better. Alex was about, on the charts, 20 percent better than the last games. That's a big jump, man. Twenty percent? Now we have to keep him rolling in that direction. He is playing three minutes at a time so he can just sustain that energy and get in the habit. But stopping and not playing or mentally losing it, you're off. Just three minutes hard, come off. Three minutes hard, come off. That is what we are trying to do right now."

On getting the strong performance on the road and what it says about his team …
"That is every game we play, though. I thought we did it against Vanderbilt. We are playing better on the road than we are at home. I thought the Vanderbilt game we hit seven or eight minutes where we got tentative, but short of that I thought we played excellent. Every game we play, it is an advantage for us because the teams we are playing against very rarely is it (stepping into a hostile environment) happening to them. For us, it is every single game we play, home or on the road, is some specialty day. Either retiring a jersey, giving away cups, shirt night, bat night, family night, McDonalds hamburger night, I don't know but it is something. It is what it is."

On Alex Poythress shooting layups instead of dunking …
"It is just his mentality right now, which is what we are trying to change. That is how he views things."

On if he found himself yelling less Saturday night against Auburn …
"Before the game I just said, 'Look, these guys, we have got to start figuring this out and coaching emotion, effort and intensity ends up being aggressively coaching to get them to get after it.' At some point you have to say, 'I can't. Maybe they don't want this as bad as we want it.' I think they do and when you are up 16 and 18 and finishing people off, what do you do? Just scream to scream? They are doing everything that you want them to do so you just coach the game. How about this? They are diving for loose balls, going for rebounds, talking to one another. 'Well, Cal, you didn't have to do as much.' Duh. Duh. Did you watch the game? I don't have to do as much. Let me just say this, I would like to sit there with a rolled up program and just sit there and watch the whole game. That would be fun to do that for like 10 years. A 10-year run or just crossing my legs and watching what happens."

On Alabama playing a four-guard lineup and if that means more playing time for Jarrod Polson
"He played good. Jarrod played good. We are going to stay with the rotation that we have and hopefully he will get the minutes and get in there and perform. This is going to be an aggressive game, though. They come after you and it becomes body on body a lot."

On Archie Goodwin driving in high school compared to driving in college …
"He could go one-on-five and just throw it up there but he is learning. He is trying. He wants to know and wants to keep talking to me and (saying), 'Tell me what you want me to do.' That is what we have been doing."

#3, Nerlens Noel, F, Fr.

On how and where his game is getting better …
"Defensively I am a lot better. Coach Cal has made sure I have stayed busy defensively and staying on my feet, which has helped me. I am not going after every ball like I was earlier in the season and I am blocking the higher shots. Offensively, everything on the block, just working on my touches, and everything like that."

On how hard it is for him to stay down and not go for every shot …
"It was pretty tough. Coming in you want to block everything there is to block and I was very anxious at the beginning of the season. We have worked on it and I have come to be more relaxed on defense and anticipate things better. It is because it is a different level from high school in how you can still leave your feet and block that shot. I think I have come a long way and I have still have progress to make."

On how he is going to have to defend Alabama's four guards away from the basket …
"We have been doing that for quite some time this season. I feel comfortable guarding 2, 3, and 4, especially having Alex (Poythress) as a forward starter now helps us a little bit, even though Willie (Cauley-Stein) isn't here. Willie did a great job guarding some smaller players himself. Even with Alex in the smaller lineup, I think it will still work to our advantage."

#5, Jarrod Polson, G

On the team's play at Auburn …
"We just competed hard for 40 minutes. We got on a run in the second half and I think it made us have a lot of fun. When we are hitting shots like that it makes the game a lot easier. We were just competing hard and kind of blew it open in the second half which was a lot of fun."

On Alabama's team …
"They are pretty much a typical SEC school. They have really good guards. Coach (John) Calipari says it will be a big test for our guards. Their bigs are physical, so we have to be physical and come out and compete for 40 minutes."

On the play of Archie (Goodwin) vs. Auburn …
"He played really good. He just played within himself and that's what we have been trying to get him to do. He didn't really take any bad shots. He kind of ran the team, he was looking for other people in transition. As you can see, he played way better doing that. He's really buying in to what we are trying to get him to do. He scored when he was open and that's exactly what we want him to do, he's a scorer, but at the same time he looked for the open man and that really helped us out too."