In explaining Kyle Wiltjer's productive game against Tennessee this week, Kentucky Coach John Calipari suggested that practice made, if not perfect, then much better.
"He stepped up the practice stuff," Calipari said. "He's gone in the gym and done extra. Being more aggressive and talking. Right now, he's the most vocal player we have."
Wiltjer scored 17 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots against Tennessee.
To help fill the void should Willie Cauley-Stein not be able to play at Auburn on Saturday, Wiltjer said he needed to "keep doing what I've been doing."
He explained his need for better defense as "showing hard on screens" and anticipating the offense's intentions and boxing out.
After the Tennessee game, Calipari noted that Wiltjer had asked for the first time that Kentucky run plays for him. This reflected a desire for an expanded role, the UK coach said.
"You have to be tired of the way it is," Calipari said. "Then you've got to admit, 'I've got to make changes. What I'm doing is not working.' Then you begin to change it."
Auburn expects its first sellout since last season's game against Kentucky. The Tigers are trying to downplay its significance in order to stay grounded.
"We want to treat it like it's another respectable SEC opponent that's coming in here," wing Allen Payne said. "And we have to protect our house."
Auburn is hoping to stage an "orange out" in which fans are asked to wear orange. Plus, Auburn plans to retire the No. 30 jersey of the late Mike Mitchell at halftime.
From 40 to four
Texas A&M senior Elston Turner torched UK with a 40-point performance last week. "He just had a terrific night," Ryan Harrow said.
In his next game, Turner scored only four points in a home loss to Florida.
"I was, like, of course," Harrow said of this pattern of opponents playing exceptionally well against Kentucky and then the pendulum swinging back the other way,
Cal on Barbee
Calipari saluted Auburn Coach Tony Barbee, who, of course, played for Calipari at UMass and later served as an assistant.
"Tony is doing an unbelieveable job," Calipari said. "Those guys are being coached exactly how they ought to be coached. Auburn bought into how they're going to have to play. We have not."
While Calipari and Barbee compete at Auburn, UMass is retiring the jersey of former All-American Marcus Camby on Saturday. He follows Julius Erving and Lou Roe as UMass players to have their jerseys retired by the school.
"It is a well-deserved honor, and it is long overdue," Barbee said. "Marcus, not only as a basketball player but as a friend and somebody that I was around and coached in my first year of coaching there in the Final Four, it makes me proud and makes all of the UMass family proud to see him honored in this way."
Auburn is coming off a hard-to-swallow double-overtime loss at Arkansas on Wednesday night.
"We had to let that go on the plane," Payne said. "If we're not focused and ready for Kentucky, we could end up getting beat pretty bad."
If it's close down the stretch and Kentucky needs to foul, two good candidates are the two players who lead Auburn in free-throw attempts: Frankie Sullivan (10-for-20 from the line in SEC play) and Rob Chubb (10-for-18 in SEC play).
Auburn made only 11 of 25 free throws at Arkansas.
"We recognize it hurt us a lot," Chubb said. "Pretty much practice, practice, practice. That's all you can do with free throws."
Tom Hart and Matt Doherty will call the game for ESPNU.
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227 Twitter: @JerryTipton Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com