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Wildcats Set for Rematch with Auburn Saturday




Feb. 8, 2013

Riding a four-game winning streak, the Wildcats remain at home for a rematch with Auburn on Saturday. UK captured the opening game against the Tigers in a 75-53 win on Jan. 19. UK has won 14-straight in the series and has not dropped a contest to Auburn since 2000.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Auburn
Sat., Feb. 9 - 4:00 p.m. ET
Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | AU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
Gameday Live: Online video, audio, blog and stats
TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK IMG
Text Updates

Freshman Nerlens Noel became the first UK player this season to post consecutive double-double efforts with a 10-point, 10-rebound game in a win over South Carolina on Tuesday. Senior Julius Mays has found his shooting touch and has connected on 15 3-pointers over the last five games.

Auburn is coming into the contest after earning a 49-37 win over Alabama on Tuesday. The win against the Crimson Tide snapped a six-game slide for the Tigers.

Scouting Auburn

Auburn snapped a six-game slide with a 49-37 home-win over Alabama on Tuesday. Auburn's streak began with a 75-53 loss to Kentucky in mid-January. Senior Frankie Sullivan leads the team with 16.1 points per game. Rob Chubb scores 9.5 points per game and adds a team-high 7.5 rebounds per outing. Josh Wallace leads the team with 70 assists and reached double-figure scoring in the win over the Tide on Tuesday.

Media Opportunity - Feb. 8, 2013

Head Coach John Calipari

On Willie Cauley-Stein having more energy now with a healthy knee …
"He has more in the tank. He really does. Obviously, not only does he make our team better, but he makes our practice better. So now you have competitors on that second unit that are really coming after the first unit and it is great stuff to watch and see."

On if this Auburn game will be the same as the first meeting …
"Who knows. We are better when we think 'Uh oh. We might get beat, we better play.' The other way is you start playing well and all of the sudden the other team will make a run and we will wilt. Wilt at guard, wilt at every position, really. But, we are getting better. Our team is improving and every game is a challenge. This game is going to be physical. They gut it out, they play hard, Tony (Barbee) has them playing in a way that they play a great zone, they are man-to-man with how they play pick and rolls, they will trap the post, they will put a 2-2-1 press back to the zone. This could be a game where he puts the zone out from the tip. It's a good zone. It's a really good zone. They have speed at guard. (Frankie) Sullivan could score 40. I shouldn't even say that, but he could."

On the first Auburn game being a good test for UK …
"It was a good game at halftime and then we spaced it out in the second half. This again will be a challenge for us. You're seeing Texas A&M beat Missouri yesterday. In this league you are seeing Arkansas getting beat by 25 by South Carolina. 25. Then come back and be up 20 something on Florida. You see Mississippi beat this team by 25 and come back. It's just crazy. We're all the same and so I'm not worried about anybody else. I didn't see the Indiana score until this morning. Didn't see it. I saw the last couple of plays. This is about us getting better and we don't need to worry about anybody else. Let's just get us better and then worry about where that takes us."

On what worked in the first meeting with Auburn …
"Our guard play, especially Ryan (Harrow) was physical. He was down. He wasn't standing up doing that stuff. He was down and physical, taking contact, making baskets and Kyle Wiltjer in the middle of the zone was a killer. Alex (Poythress) on the baseline of the zone was a killer and made them play man-to-man, so there were some good things from it."

On the time that Willie Cauley-Stein missed giving others a chance to improve …  
"Kyle (Wiltjer), Alex (Poythress), and it gave Jarrod Polson a chance for some quality minutes, but those aren't the issues. The issue on this team is that players are trying to establish who they are versus 'I know what I am and I am going to give this to the team'. It's a natural thing. It's not selfishness, it's natural. We have to get by that. They are going to see tape today of two plays. The kid from Indiana losing the ball, and running down and blocking the shot. The kid from Michigan losing the ball, and then running back and stopping the basket. Our guy would lose the ball, and where would his head go? You all know it. His head would go down, jog back, and you lose. And again, that is because I am more into how I am playing more than the way the team's doing. It's natural. I am not upset, I just keep pointing that out to them. Every time -- I point it out; I point it out. We are pretty well squared away with how we need guys to play so it should be in that direction, but you don't know. You just don't know."

On whether he feels that the team has recognized the need to define themselves…
"I would say, and probably me as a coach, also. You know, you get used to, for seven years, whomping on people. Then, you go into games and its touch and go the whole game; you've got to coach them a little different. You've got to be a little different, knowing, don't get excited that the game is closer and you think it should be 20 and it ain't going to be 20. It's going to be four. Now, coach the game. So, it took me a while to get my feet under me, too. So, it's not just them, it's all of us."

On how Tony Barbee is different from Coach Calipari as a coach…
"He's about 6'6", opposing figure. He's his own man. I'm going to tell you what I do, giving away secrets here. When we're getting ready to play a team, this is how I prepare for the game. This shows you the respect I have for him. I watch our game with them the last time. If we played them twice, I'll watch them twice. Then, I watch their game against Auburn and I watch what Tony did to guard them and what he did to exploit them. Then, I got on to other games. Always. So, he's the guy that, the stuff that happened for us at Mississippi, that was Tony. I called him the night before the game and he convinced me to switch out on that kid every time. We were on the phone for a half hour. I said, 'Are you sure?' He said, 'I'm telling you. Watch our tape again,' and I watched it again and that night, without a practice, that's what we did. So, I have great respect for him as a coach. Obviously, as a person, as a father, as a husband and, you know, I've known him since he was fifteen, fourteen."

On how Tony Barbee is still assisting…
"Yeah, well hopefully we're assisting each other. I'm calling him at times if he needs my help in anything but, I just have the utmost respect for him as a coach and I know him as a person. I know how competitive he is, too. He wants to win this game. I know, and that's fine. Let's go play the game and see what happens. I hate playing friends. I hate playing somebody that I love. Can you imagine? If we lose, I'm going to be sick. If we win, I'm happy and then I look at him and I'm not happy. So I don't even get to enjoy the game. Either way, I'm going to be sick. So, that's why, get the game over with. Next. Who's next?"

On whether he's worried about his team looking ahead to Florida…
"Is that the next game? If I don't know, they probably don't know. I don't even know if they know what position we're in in the league. Half of my staff said, 'I bet you they don't even know where we are,' you know. So, these guys are oblivious. And again, a lot of it is, they're trying to establish themselves and the only thing they know is a four-foot circle around their own body. That's what they live in. They know all of that stuff in there but, outside of that it becomes a little dicey. But, I keep saying, it is natural. Michael Jordan took three years before he thought about championships. He tried to establish who he was, so did Magic [Johnson], so did [Larry] Bird, so did Kobe [Bryant]. They all did. 'I have to establish who I am as a player. Now, let me worry about being a champion now. Let me worry about getting that chip.' These guys, that's what we're trying to address and break through."

On whether it's okay if the growing process takes three or four years…
"I told them, 'Sometimes it takes long.' Well, we don't just have one. I told them, 'This thing may not be a year. It may be two. It may be three. It may be four. It doesn't matter.' It's going to be what it is. And so, it's addressed, some guys will continue to fight. In other words, 'I'm not giving in. I'm not surrendering.' But you all, what happens is, they stand out. You see it. Everybody sees it and so, we're just going to continue to coach and push them and try to continue to get better and try to teach life lessons. I mean, every night we're going through different things to talk about different lessons. I'm not watching game tape with them. None. The staff is doing that. I don't want them to see me in a basketball sense right now. I'm just teaching life skills, that's all. How do to deal with this, how to deal with adversity. What does it mean to love? Tell me what it means to love. We've got a lot of stuff, these kids are 18 and 19 and their whole life has been in that four foot space, right there. This has been, like I told my staff, 'write this stuff down because if it works let's make sure we remember what the heck we did because this is all new for me."

On not watching tape with his players …
"I've never done it before. I'm doing stuff this year, from heart monitors, we're just doing stuff, I'm doing anything I can to try to get them to tweak, to try to get them to take that jump. But they all have to take it, we have a couple that are not right now."

On what he does to improve the team …
"I read books all the time, I do it all, I talk to (Bob) Rotella, I talk to Ken Blanchard, I'm reading three books a day, I'm taking stuff from everything I'm reading. (I'm) praying in the morning. Hard. Just for strength to keep going for these kids because they deserve to feel the joy of doing something unique. It doesn't matter where you are right now, where do you want to be? What are you willing to accept you are so you may change? We have guys that won't accept right now. 'I really want that.' What are you willing to do? 'I'm not willing to do anything, I just want it.' Well, you must go play the lottery because that's the only way you're going to win something with not doing anything. What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to sacrifice? This is all life lessons that I'm trying to teach, that's all it is right now. I'm going to go in the room and I've got three lessons I'm going to give them before practice and it's not basketball. I'm doing it before every practice and if I feel it in the evening, I get in my car and I meet them in the lodge and we pull out books and we start reading. I'm just doing life skills, that's what this team needs. It was great seeing John Wall. 'How much do you talk to Eric (Bledsoe)?' 'Three or four times a week.' 'How much do you talk to DeMarcus (Cousins)?' 'Great, he and I talk all the time.' Those guys loved each other. What about last year's team? They loved each other. What about the year – they loved each other. See if you love, and truly love, that means it's more about the other guy than you. Then you have discipline. The reason you have discipline is you're playing for him because you love him and you've got his back. It's a hard thing now, ready, four-foot circle, it's not been about that and that's where we're trying to get them. When you feel that joy, which you control, it's by being grateful, by letting people know that you appreciate what they're about and who they are. When you're making things about everybody else, you become joyful. When it's solely in that four foot circle and it doesn't go right, watch this one, (puts his head down) you ever see this? We've got a couple guys that we're trying to get them out of that four-foot circle."

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F, Fr.

On status of his knee after playing…
"It feels about the same. Its getting better though, the pain is starting to go away"

On experience of sitting out and observing …
"Some people really stepped up, I didn't see anyone revert back. I have seen Kyle (Wiltjer) pick-up and Nerlens (Noel), Archie (Goodwin) started trying to find people [on the court]."

On the focus going into this game…
"Everyone is really hyped to play (Auburn) again because they just came back against Alabama. Coach (Calipari) said we can't take them lightly. They came back and won a big game. They are going to be extra coming into our place and playing us. So we just have to take it like we never played them before and go out and play hard."

On appreciating playing again after sitting out from injury …
"Absolutely, that's what my mom kept on telling me too. I went through a down period, there was a couple of days that I thought I was not going to play as good and it made me really think at the time if I really did love the sport and it is absolutely right. When you are sitting out there is nothing worst."

On there being a danger taking Auburn lightly…
"We have a problem with that. It started with the Notre Dame game and Baylor game we have a problem taking people lightly. If we don't come ready we are liable to get beat, especially because we are everybody's super bowl game. We have to come out like they are better than you even if they are not; we have to come out like they are."

#34, Julius Mays, G, GS

On how close he thinks the team can be …
"I think we are a step or two away, just by being able to get a team down and bury them. We haven't got there yet, but we have made a lot of improvements and strides. We are getting better every day."

On being able to get through games better and not pay attention to the rankings…
"Yeah, I've been saying that since the beginning of the year. I felt like everybody had it in their head that we had so much to live up to. My main thing was that we are our own team; we are not last year's team. Last year's team did something amazing and there are a few people that can come out and do that. I felt that guys had high expectations for themselves and it only set us back instead of letting us be as good as we were. We lost the swagger that we had once we dropped a game and another game. Then, everybody started feeling like we weren't as good as we could be. That just set us back, the mental aspect of it."

On the team's expectations…
"I don't think there are any expectations. I think we control our own fate. I think we can do what we want to do. I feel like we have the talent on this team to take it anywhere, to make a deep run in March. Obviously your outsiders are going to have expectations, but like I said you shouldn't pay attention to what they say."

On if he thinks Coach Cal has been laid back this season…
"Yeah I think he tries to put a lot more responsibility on us, not so much on himself. There is no excuse for us to say 'oh he's doing this, or oh he's doing that.'  I think he tries to put it in our hands and take it out of his."


 

 

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