Kentucky Faces Auburn in Rupp

Feb. 20, 2015

Auburn travels to chilly Lexington to face Kentucky on Saturday, February 21. Tip is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be carried by ESPN.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Auburn
Saturday, Feb. 21 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | AU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: ESPN
Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via WatchESPN
Live Audio
Live Stats
Text Updates
UK Team Stats AU
73.3 Points 68.7
51.7 Opp. Points 70.5
.461 FG .410
.339 Opp. FG .457
.341 3-FG .344
.262 Opp. 3-FG .325
.705 FT .671
38.5 Rebs 32.5
31.2 Opp. Rebs. 36.7
15.0 Assists 10.8
11.0 Turnovers 13.4
7.0 Blocks 2.7
6.9 Steals 7.2

Kentucky-Auburn Still Scheduled as Planned

Despite the threat of inclement weather, the Kentucky-Auburn game is still scheduled as planned for a 7 p.m. tip in Rupp Arena on Saturday.

Fans are encouraged to use extreme caution when driving to the arena and while walking into the facility.

Conditions are not ideal, with several streets in the area still snow-covered from Monday's storm and more inclement weather anticipated on Saturday. Parking is limited in the downtown area due to snow piles, so fans are encouraged to arrive early with time to park and walk into the arena.

More information will be released as needed prior to the game. The contest will air live on ESPN at 7 p.m. with Mark Jones, Sean Farnham and Kaylee Hartung on the call.

For the latest on the Kentucky men's basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter and on the web at UKathletics.com.

This Week's News

Kentucky to Wear Special Nike Jerseys Saturday

  • Kentucky is one of eight teams - and one of just six men's teams - selected by Nike to wear its new Hyper Elite uniforms. The Wildcats will wear new uniforms on Saturday that fuse progressive, premium materials with school heritage.
  • The uniform will feature a white base with blue lettering and a 26-degree speed graphic of an evolved checkerboard across the side of the game shorts.
  • The 26-degree angle of the graphic was inspired by the chevron on the classic Nike Windrunner track jacket that debuted in 1978.
  • The graphic represents a distinctive basketball point of view, based on the roughly 1,000 directional changes, or "cuts" that a player might make in the course of a game.

Kentucky Pulls Away from Tennessee

  • Kentucky traveled to another hostile environment and survived a fight from Tennessee, before going on a 10-0 run late in the second half to pull away for a 66-48 win on Tuesday.
    • At 26-0 to start the season, UK is off to the best start in program history, bettering the 25-0 start by the 1953-54 team.
    • The Wildcats are the first team in the history of the SEC to begin the year 26-0.
    • Kentucky's 26-game winning streak is tied for the third longest in school history.
    • The streak is the second longest over the course of a single season, tying the 2002-03 Wildcats.
    • The 1995-96 Wildcats went on a 27-game winning streak, which is the single-season school record.
  • UK has won 48 of its last 50 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
    • John Calipari has a 92-9 all-time record when coaching the nation's No. 1 team, including a 51-4 mark at Kentucky.
  • UK hit 81 percent (17 of 21) at the free-throw line. It is the 11th time in the last 14 games that the Cats have made at least 70 percent from the line.
  • UK is 56-0 in the Calipari era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 18 times this season.
  • Tennessee made two 3-point shots, tying Texas A&M and the game at South Carolina for the second fewest made 3s by a UK opponent this season. Missouri made just one 3 in the Jan. 13 game.
  • Devin Booker grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end. His previous best was four boards. Booker just missed out on a career-high point total with 18 points.
  • Tyler Ulis dished out six assists, his highest assist total since dropping six dimes on at South Carolina on Jan. 24. Ulis added eight points with seven of them coming in the first half.
  • Andrew Harrison continued his recent strong play with 14 points. He's averaging 12.0 points over his last five games.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein just missed out on his third double- double of the season with nine points and seven rebounds.

Kentucky Smothers South Carolina for 77-43 Win

  • Kentucky's typically dominant defense returned in a 77-43 rout of South Carolina.
  • Kentucky held South Carolina to 23.6 percent from the field.
    • It is the 11th game this season that the Wildcats have held a team to less than 30 percent.
  • South Carolina had only three assists on the 13 made baskets. It is the second-lowest opponent assist total of the season, next to one assist by Louisville in that game.
  • UK won rebounding 45-21. The plus-24 margin is the second largest of the season and highest margin vs. an SEC opponent.
    • The rebounding helped UK to a 14-3 advantage in second-chance points and 34-16 lead in points in the paint.
  • Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field, 27 of 54. It is the eighth game this season that the Wildcats made at least half their shots.
  • UK hit 75 percent (18 of 24) at the free-throw line.
  • Balanced scoring featured seven Wildcats with at least eight points.
  • Kentucky scored the first four points of the game and jumped out to an 18-3 lead.
  • UK led by as many as 27 points on two occasions before going to intermission with a 43-18 lead.
  • Dakari Johnson collected his second double- double of the season with 10 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns had a perfect shooting day from the field, making 3 of 3 field-goal attempts. He totaled nine points and is averaging 13.4 points over the last five games.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein led the Wildcats with 14 points, his third consecutive game in double figures. He's averaging 14 points over those three games.
  • Aaron Harrison chipped in 11 points, equaling his team-high average for the season.
  • Andrew Harrison contributed nine points and a game-high six assists.

Kentucky to Hang Delk's Jersey in the Rafters at Halftime of the Auburn Game

  • The UK Athletics Hall of Famer will have his jerseys join the legends in the rafters at Rupp Arena on Saturday night during the UK-Auburn game at 7 p.m.
  • There is a five-year waiting period - after leaving UK - to be eligible for inclusion into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Famers are eligible for jersey retirement five years after they have been elected to the Hall of Fame.
  • The Most Outstanding Player of the 1996 NCAA Final Four and the Midwest Regional in leading UK to the national championship, he arned firstteam All-America and SEC Player of the Year honors as a senior. He is UK's career leader in 3-pointers (283), while ranking second in career steals (201) and fifth in scoring (1,890 points).

Towns Hauls in Multiple Awards

  • Karl-Anthony Towns captured the USBWA's National Freshman of the Week accolade in addition to earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors on Feb. 17.
  • Towns was a major factor for the Wildcats in a pair of victories last week against LSU and South Carolina. The Piscataway, N.J., native averaged 10.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
  • With UK trailing 66-60 on the road at LSU, Towns hit a step-back jumper as the shot clock was dwindling to snap a 16-0 LSU run. He would then help UK recapture the lead, and eventually the win, with an offensive rebound and a score for a 70-69 advantage.

Calipari Named a Hall of Fame Finalist

  • John Calipari is one of 12 finalists eligible to go in to the Hall of Fame in September. The Class of 2015 will be announced April 6 at a press conference in Indianapolis, prior to the national championship game.
  • A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2015 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 10-11.

Dampier Elected to Hall of Fame

  • Kentucky basketball great Louie Dampier was voted in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as one of the first five members of the Class of 2015.
  • Dampier (1965-67), a Second Team All-American at Kentucky, was voted in as a Direct Elect by the American Basketball Association Committee.
  • Dampier played three seasons as Kentucky where he was named a Second Team All-American twice and an Academic All-American once. When he graduated, he was ranked third all-time in points scored for the Wildcats and currently sits at 12th with 1,575 career points.

Media Opportunity - February 20, 2015

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

What can you tell us about "Karlito" ...
"So did you interview Karl(-Anthony Towns) today or did you interview Karlito? He is such a great kid, he doesn't want to talk back to you so he turns his head to the side and talks to that little man on his shoulder. After he started doing it I said, `Who are you talking to?' I can't remember which of the coaches gave him the nickname, said he's talking to Karlito. He's a great kid. You know, they are 18 and 19 and they play an awful game and they're photobombing. They're young kids; they don't know better. That's fine."

On if Towns had to adjust since he did not play AAU ...
"I don't think so. He's a little bit of a guy who will go into his room and do his own thing. He's very close to his family, very close-knit family so he's always been that way. So he is different that way but these guys love him. He and Willie (Cauley-Stein) when they are in there together and they are playing right, that's a heck of a frontline."

On recruiting Chicago-area players...
"The one thing the Chicago players obviously (have) - Derrick Rose - those guys have a fight and a will to win, the one's I've recruited. They have all been solid kids and have done the right things, great teammates. You know, we haven't gotten everyone that we have gone after but the ones that we did get to come with us (were really good). One, they ended up turning out pretty good and they were fun to coach. Yeah, Anthony Davis, I forgot about him, the kid with the one eyebrow.  He was pretty good too."

On Bruce Pearl saying that Auburn cannot beat Kentucky...
"Let me just say, I've watched the tapes of their games and they play really hard. I've probably watched four, maybe five. I will probably watch one or two more. They play really hard. They are playing a way that they have to win games. (Antoine) Mason, (KT) Harrell can beat you by themselves if they get going. They are not afraid to shoot 3s. Offensively they are playing pretty loose, driving the ball and playing that way. Defensively they are just digging in and scrambling. They'll trap. Post play, they are not going to let us just throw it to the post. What I saw is they're playing, although they still do the stuff, the little trick stuff on the out-of-bounds stuff, the side out and the press - the normal stuff that he has done in the past. I think those kids are giving everything and will have a chance like they have every game they've played. I mean, they haven't gotten buried by anybody."

On the last team Calipari had was 26-0 and Bruce Pearl was the next game...
"They beat us. They could do the same this game. I would imagine he could say what he wants, (but) his team is coming in here to win the game. But it was him? I'm trying to think of who was the guy in Massachusetts. Who was it? So you studied the losses, Jerry. You just don't study the wins."

On if tomorrow's game holds meaning for assistant Tony Barbee after coaching at Auburn ...
"He and I talked about it. I said, `How are you feeling?' He said, `Just go play the game. Don't worry about me. I'm good.' Tony went into a really hard situation and almost got it turned. When you're almost turned, you can't afford to have anything go wrong. You can't have a kid that you have to throw off the team - an academic issue or an issue in the community. You have no room for those things. If one or two things happen, then you're teetering on the edge. That's not just Tony. That's everybody who takes over a program. I've been there. When I took over UMass, I got a call two months into the job at 3 o'clock in the morning saying, `Two of your kids were arrested.' What? `They were arrested for robbing a house.' What? They weren't kids that I recruited, but they were there - with burglar tools. What? It just got worse every day and somehow we survived it. I've been there where stuff out of your control happens. I wasn't there with them, but it happened. They weren't guys that I recruited, but they were on my team and a part of my program. Tony had some stuff happen. I still think he will get another job and will be great. Hopefully I don't have to coach against him `cause every time we played against each other was a war. Every game we played against him was a war whether he was at UTEP or Auburn."

On Devin Booker's relationship in the three years of high school with his father and how it benefitted his game ...
"You'd have to ask Devin. They have a great relationship and the dad doesn't pull any punches, tells the truth and doesn't try to be his best friend. He's trying to be his father. He holds him accountable when he doesn't do what he's supposed to. He tells him, doesn't alibi or enable. Devin needed that and the guy was a hell of a player. He could play. I coached his dad. You didn't know that? You didn't know I coached his dad? We have a bunch of bennies in here that are supposed to be researchers. I coached his father. He had to remind me that I coached him, but my wife remembered. I took a team, for Billy Packer, overseas. He was on the team and I said, `Please tell me I let you shoot it all the time.' My memory is not so good these days."

On Tony Delk getting his jersey retired during the game tomorrow ...
"It's great. I wish I had coached him. I coached against him. We did a pretty good job on him those two games to be honest with you. I had him on the staff with us here and everyday he walked in he had a smile on his face. Every day I asked him what he thought, he had an honest answer. He was on top of stuff. When he has an opportunity to go into coaching and other things that he's doing now, I couldn't be happier."

On what he saw in Charles Matthews to offer him a scholarship ...
"I loved his competitiveness and his fight. I loved how he is a multiple-position guy. Last summer, they tried to play him at point guard. That's not what he is. He's a playmaker off the ball. He's a slasher. He's a finisher. I loved his body and his ability to defend. I think he's going to be an absolute knockdown and be able to play three positions the guys that we have here. I don't care where people have people ranked. Devin Booker was ranked 30th or 28th. It doesn't matter to me. It's who do I like and who do I want to coach and then we try to take those guys to another level. Eric Bledsoe - I don't care what anyone said about Eric Bledsoe. `He couldn't be in the Jordan game or the McDonald's game.' Yeah, well he's in the NBA doing pretty well right now. He's the least of our worries, but we need to sign a few more guys though."

On if he was watching Charles Matthews when he noticed Tyler Ulis ...
"I watched them together. I was watching them together. And I thought together - Tyler is the perfect kind of guard for Charles because Charles can just do his thing. If you're making him do too much, he's not ready for that yet offensively."

On what this team is learning about finishing opponents off ...
"Getting better. They were talking about it themselves. They brought it up last game. `In winning time, we're up 12, let's go. Let's get this to where it's supposed to be.' And they kept playing and did some good stuff. We still got a ways to go."

On if it was a busy afternoon yesterday with all the NBA trades involving former UK players ...
"You know what, I tried to hit some of the guys. There was some really weird stuff done that I couldn't understand, but if you want my opinion on the NBA, you to go back to the fact that I was fired and I can give you my opinion on it."

On having three guys in Phoenix now ...
"They've got to come east. When they come east I'll go watch them."

On if he addresses being undefeated with his guys ...
"No. Right now we're zeroed in on individual players getting better, understanding that they've got to compete against each other. Yesterday was great because they really got after each other. I'm juggling balls. I usually don't have scrimmaging, competitiveness this late in the season, but this team needs that, so we're doing it. We'll even do a little bit today, which I never have done, just because that's who they are. But we don't talk about that stuff. I'm trying to get the narrative away from all that. Let's have individual players get better. Let's have guys be the best version of themselves. I cut some tape out for a couple of the guys, showing them exactly what I want them to look like so there's no confusion. Then I showed the team, `Here's what I want this person to look like.' And when they saw it, I said, `Now Dakari, to play that way, what?' He says, `It's really hard. Really hard.' Because that's what I say to him all the time. To get him to play the way he has to play, it's hard. To run that hard? To play down and sit in a stance and shoot it quick and explode and do that and then run back and guard? Like, really hard. And that's what we're asking them to do. But that's why this is a special team. They are doing all those things."

On if he shows the tape to everyone so the other guys see it too ...
"No, what I did was I showed the individual  players and then I brought in and showed the team to say, `This is what they'll look like when they're playing the way I want them to play. Now it's hard to play that way all the time, but that's what they should be striving for.' And I told the guys, `If anybody else wants a video, we'll put it to music so they'll watch it.' And I'll say, `Does anybody else want a video of yourself?' They're all like, `Yeah, I want one.' Showing them the way we want them to play. Again, as I've done this over the years, my whole goal is, at the end of the year, I want every individual player when you look at them saying, `That's the best I've ever seen him play.' Every guy. When you see Marcus Lee go in the game against Michigan, I didn't know he was like that. Or Dominique (Hawkins). `I didn't know that.' It's not just four or five guys or two guys. I want them all playing well. That's what we're striving for right now."

On Tyler Ulis' performance this year ...
"He's doing good. He's a little bit beat up. He's been beat up for a couple months. I told him his option is take two months off or figuring this out because it's taken you two days. We have him three days or four days off and he was still hurting. So I said, `OK, you've got to take two months off from practice.' So if you're looking at him, he's probably playing at about 75 percent right now with the injury. Now, he plays through it and gets the ice on right after, but he's hurting a little bit."

Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns

On if he's 7 feet tall ...
"That's a great way to come out (laughter)."

On if he doesn't want to be a center since he's listed at 6-11 ...
"Oh man, no. I always felt like I was 7-feet tall, been told multiple times I was. But, it doesn't really matter about the height you have, it matters how big you play."

On if he's still growing ...
"Yeah, I am still growing, but I'm just waiting for it to kick in I guess (laughter)."

On how he feels his game has changed the last few weeks ...
"Just more aggressive, especially on the offensive end. Just making more shots come to me. You know, I've done a better job of just making shots for myself, being in better positions and getting open better, so, also using my base more as Coach Cal says, `Bending down more.' It's been helping me a lot, it's been showing."

On how frustrating it is to grab two fouls in 54 seconds after having good games prior to that ...
"It's frustrating because I always feel like I could give--I could help my teammates and help my brothers, but for me it wasn't, `cause I always know, like I said (laughter)--our team is so stacked I can't feel bad at all, knowing that the person behind (me) is almost just as good as me, or as good as me, or is good as me, so my brothers are always going to pick up the slack for me. Days like that happen. That's the best thing about this team, you don't have to be great every day, you can come out and just play to the best of your ability that day."

On the key to avoiding foul trouble ...
"You know, just, don't be so aggressive, don't be so at the moment. You gotta be smart, you just gotta be smart. Those moments like that, you gotta just know that it's a chippy game and you gotta make sure you don't get too chippy with everybody."

On if it took a while to transition from overseas basketball to college basketball ...
"Yeah, it did. It took me some time. They're different physicalities. Different things are let go in the international level than at the college level, so, you know, you just gotta adjust. That's really it. There's no excuses to be made."

On staying mentally focused when he picks up two quick fouls and not beating himself up ...
"Oh you know, that just comes with, like I said before in previous interviews, a person like Willie (Cauley-Stein) mentoring me. You know, it just came through my mind--yeah, I was mad at myself, didn't want to get those two fouls. I knew in the second half my brothers were going to need me. I just focused on, the second half, coming out, playing strong and doing all the things that I can do for my team and just making sure when I come out I could contribute."

On if any of his friends on the Dominican Republic team give him a hard time for being the only team to beat the Cats back during the Big Blue Bahamas trip ...
"No, I haven't actually, which is surprising. I'm waiting for that call. But, you know, they're just wishing us the best. You know, like I said before, most of the people on the Dominican Republic team, Cal has coached, so they just wish him the best. The just wish him the best of success."

On if he talked to Anthony Davis in Baton Rouge ...
"Maybe, a little bit. I guess that'll be the mystery you all will have to find out. (Reporter says, "Cal said you did, so it's out of the bag.) He messed it up. I was trying to have you guys go through a Scooby-Doo show. No, yeah, we talked, just making sure--he just gave me some advice about this college season, how it's going to go, just being ready for all the obstacles that come along with it."

On if the advice means more from a former player who's made it in the NBA compared to a coach ...
"You know, it's just, especially when you talk to a person like that, who's had success, who's won a national championship already here, words that come from his mouth are very much more, come out more valuable. `Cause he's been part of this process of getting to the national championship game and winning. Going through a crazy year like we've been going through, it's one of those things, when you get wisdom from a person like that you gotta take it in and soak it in totally."

On Cauley-Stein saying America wants to see Kentucky lose ...
"Well, he isn't lying."

On if Kentucky is an easy villain to cheer against ...
"I mean, we're those big boys everybody in the park wants to beat up, so you know it's just one of those things that come(s) with the territory. We've been playing great basketball this year and everyone's just trying to make sure that they can stop that run. I guess you can say we're the villains. I don't think we're more villains, I just think we're just the people who were given the basketball the first try on the park and we just never get off the court."

On if he's used to that feeling ...
"Park-wise, I was always used to being the kid who never got picked, so I can laugh in their face now when I go back home."

On how it's possible that he wasn't picked ...
"You know, I guess I wasn't good enough at the time. I had to get better."

On how old he was during that time ...
"I didn't just come out of the womb. It was about, maybe, 9, 10--9, 10, 11. It's funny `cause I have a brother, I call my brother back home, and he was always picked before me at the park, so I always keep that little chip on my shoulder sometimes, knowing that I gotta be that kid who has to prove something."

Freshman guard Tyler Ulis

On hearing people talking about going undefeated ...
"Yeah, I hear a lot about it. Watching games during the day on ESPN they bring it up a lot. We're just trying to focus on ourselves, take it one day at a time and just keep going."

On if he likes it when people talk about going undefeated ...
"It really doesn't matter to me. Of course a goal of ours is to go undefeated - no one wants to lose a game, but we have a long way to go so we're just trying to focus on that."

On Coach Cal's quote saying folks on TV are always talking about ways to beat Kentucky ...
"I honestly don't know, hopefully there isn't a way (to beat Kentucky), because we want to win every game we come out and play, and make sure we don't have any areas that are flawed that people can attack so we're trying to get better offensively, defensively and (become) polished more as a team."

On what he learned about UK when the games were tough and tight ...
"We learned as a team we're going to fight through it. We have a lot of guys who are going to fight to win. We have a lot of guys who want to win really bad. No one wants to lose. I feel like in the long run that's going to help us."

On if he considers himself from Chicago ...
"I say either or. They ask me, `Are you from Ohio or are you from Chicago?' I was actually raised in Lima, Ohio, but my dad has always lived in Chicago, so I was back and forth. Now, I live in Chicago. Both cities helped me basketball wise. Going outside playing in Lima, going to parks in Chicago, stuff like that. They're both."

On if he moved to Chicago for the better basketball competition ...
"Yeah, I moved for the better competition in basketball. We had guys like Jahlil (Okafor), Paul White ... people like that. Lima is a small city. Ohio is not that great when it comes to basketball and Chicago is a big city with a lot of publicity and it just helped me get better as a player."

On people saying perimeter shooting is a possible area of weakness with this team ...
"I don't think we're a bad shooting team. I feel like we have guys who can shoot sometimes off. Aaron (Harrison) is a great shooter. Devin (Booker) is a great shooter. Me and Andrew (Harrison) can shoot. So, I feel like if guys are going to make us shoot, if they let us shoot, we'll knock down shots. Some days we're off, some days we're not, and I think we're a good shooting team."

On what it means to be off sometimes with their shots ...
"It really doesn't mean anything. It's just, gotta keep playing, play through it, get to the basket, feed the post, stuff like that."

On if fans across the country are watching Kentucky games on TV to see if the Cats lose ...
"Yeah, I feel like with all the close games we've had lately that everyone is waiting to see who is going to beat us and which day are we going to come not ready. Hopefully, we don't lose. I don't feel like we will if we play to the best of our ability. We just have to come out fighting a little more and we won't be in that situation."

On converting down the stretch ...
"Because we don't want to lose. Everyone wants to win. It's all effort when we're down early and stuff like that. We just come out and we know we come together. Cal talks to us and we know what we have to do to win and we do it."

On the platoon potentially disrupting their rhythm ...
"I don't feel like that. Early on, maybe, but we're 26 games in so it's not disrupting anything right now because we're used to it. That's how we play. We got 10 guys, fresh bodies coming in and out of games so it just helps us."

On what kind of player UK signee Charles Matthews is ...
"Charles is a great defensive player. Offensively, he can jump, he's athletic, he can score the ball and I can't wait until he gets here."

On who committed to Kentucky first between he and Matthews ...
"I don't know. I was actually there when Cal first recruited him. Cal recruited him before me. Yeah, I was there when he first got the call. He was really excited that he called him and stuff like that. It's just a great thing that we played Mean Streets ball together and now he's coming here. I don't know if he knew before me or not, but once they recruited me I knew what I was going to do and I think he did too."

On if his performance in the Peach Jam against Tyus Jones was a big moment in his career ...
"Yeah, I feel like that was a huge game for me because he was the top point guard in the country at that time. So, Kentucky was there and I feel like that's what helped me."

On Chicago players going to Kentucky ...
"I don't know if it's just players he likes from there. I don't think it's just the city. It's just guys who are good players, like Charles, he's a great player. Who else did he recruit (from Chicago)? Anthony Davis, D-Rose (Derrick Rose), he just got really lucky with guys like that. Great players. I can't wait for Charles to get here and we can play together."

On why he decided to come to Kentucky ...
"Just Cal was really honest with me. I felt like I could be the best player I could be coming here with the guards he's had like John Wall, Derrick Rose, (Eric) Bledsoe, guys like that. Coming in here going against Andrew (Harrison) every day is just helping me grow a lot as a player."

On people wanting UK to lose ...
"Yeah, I feel like everybody wants us to lose. We've had so much success and that's what comes with success and that's why all our games are being watched right now, because we're messing around and letting guys stick in the game and stuff like that and it's actually coming down to the wire where we could either win or lose but we gut it out. So we just have to work on that so no one gets their hopes up."

On whether that's because people like to root for underdogs ...
"I don't know what it is. I feel like it's just because we've had so much success with 10 guys playing, everybody sharing time and respecting each other that they didn't think we could do it, and we're doing it. So it's just they're hoping maybe we lose or just watching to see if we do."

On whether they use that as motivation ...
"I feel like our guys don't really pay attention to it at all. We really don't care if anybody wants us to lose. We just know as a team we want to win and just we have a lot of things to work on. In the last couple games we haven't been playing to the best of our ability offensively or defensively and we just have to come out a little better."

On whether people told him he couldn't play big-time basketball because of his size ...
"Yeah."

On when people began to tell him that ...
"I've been told that all my life, never really paid any attention to it. I knew I could play and just kept pushing, working hard and I'm here where I am now."

On how he motivated himself ...
"I just love the game and I just love to play. The guys I did look up to growing up were Allen Iverson and Chris Paul. I watched those guys all the time. Iverson's the reason I wear No. 3 and one of the main reasons that I love the game right now."

On whether he sees his role as helping teammates shine ...
"Oh, yeah. That's my job, to get people involved. I'm the point guard. Attacking the lane, making things happen, being a playmaker."

On how he's seen Karl-Anthony Towns grow ...
"Yeah, he's fighting a lot more. He's becoming a monster in the post. He's not fading and stuff like that. He's finishing through people, rebounding the ball and I knew Karl was a great player. I've always been saying that and he's just showing it now."

On how much he saw Towns in high school ...
"I actually never saw Karl play on the high-school circuit until I watched his highlight videos and stuff like that once I knew he was coming here and that's about it."

On whether they laugh at the things Towns does ...
"Karl, he's a character. He's pretty funny. He does this thing where he looks down and he's like talking to somebody. You never know who he's talking to. It's like he's talking to himself and stuff like that. We just--Karl, he's a different type of kid."

More on Towns talking to himself ...
"When he does something good, he looks down and it's like he's talking to himself. Coach Cal calls it Karlito. Just stuff like that is really funny with Karl. He's just a different type of kid."

On whether it's a little guy on Towns' shoulder ...
"Yeah, we're thinking."

On whether it's been an adjustment for Towns to be around younger players again ...
"I don't know. I didn't actually really think about that, honestly. It probably is a big difference going from adults who are professionals around the game to a bunch of kids laughing and joking and stuff like that. But I feel like he's been around it with high-school teams and stuff like that so it wasn't that hard for him."

On whether he sensed Towns' recent play was coming ...
"Definitely. Karl's a very skilled player. He can shoot the 3, post up, block shots. He's one of the most skilled players I've really ever seen at his size and position and I've always felt like he was going to be a great player."