Kentucky-Texas A&M notes: 'We owe them something'

jtipton@herald-leader.comFebruary 1, 2013 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

Kentucky confirmed the obvious on Friday: A rematch with Texas A&M on Saturday provides a chance to make amends for the loss last month in which Elston Turner beat the Cats with a 40-point performance.

"Oh, for sure," reserve Jon Hood said. "It's been that way since I've been there. Anybody drops 30, 40 or 25 on us, we don't want to let that happen again.

"It left a real sour taste in our mouth. So we're looking to shut him down a little bit."

On Thursday, Turner said he expected such a determined approach by Kentucky.

"Shoot," he said. "I know it's going to be a lot tougher than it was over there."

Nerlens Noel all but promised that.

"I mean, we owe them something," he said.

The Cats described themselves as better equipped to contain Turner this time.

"We're definitely a different team than when we played them last," Noel said. "Certain players have stepped it up. ... It's going to be big for us to get this win and just keep everything going the way we want it to go so we can completely turn this corner."

UK Coach John Calipari hinted that Archie Goodwin might be guarding Turner at the beginning of the game.

After the first game, Calipari acknowledged the mistake of beginning with Alex Poythress on Turner. A&M's leading scorer had 20 of his team's first 29 points.

"So you have the wrong guy on him and the kid gets going," Calipari said. "Now he's got 'beer muscles.'"

Stop runs

UK's freshman-dependent team continues to have a roller-coaster season. The latest example came at Mississippi, where the Cats built a 17-point lead early in the second half. Then Ole Miss reeled off 16 straight points.

How UK pulled out the victory left Calipari wanting.

A possession-by-possession game requires heady play, he said. The Cats should have attacked the rim in an effort to score or draw fouls or both, he said. Instead, UK took too many perimeter jumpers.

"Instead of gutting it out and 'this is going to be hard,'" UK's play suggested, "'Let's see if I can make this and we're going to win,'" Calipari said.

Cauley-Stein

Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, Calipari said.

The UK coach suggested Cauley-Stein might play at A&M assuming the game does not become an all-out struggle to win.

Cauley-Stein has missed the last four games after undergoing what UK called a "minor procedure" on his left knee.

Separation anxiety

Calipari suggested that UK players needed to avoid negative influences.

"I'm talking to them about separating yourself from anybody who's negative," he said. "You may have to fire somebody."

That certain somebody might be a girlfriend or family member or acquaintance, he said.

'Absolute flopper'

When asked about the pick set by Kyle Wiltjer that seemed to stagger Marshall Henderson on Tuesday, Jon Hood seemed more taken with the Ole Miss player's reaction.

"He's a flopper," Hood said of Henderson dismissively. "He's an absolute flopper."

Hood noted the effectiveness of Wiltjer's screen. But when a reporter suggested the screen said something about UK's growing toughness, he added that he wouldn't base any conclusion about toughness on the play.

"That was a good pick, but Henderson was not running fast enough to explode like he got shot," Hood said.

Hood dismissed Henderson's scoring as "19 points however you can get them, I guess."

Actually, Henderson took 19 shots to score 21 points.

Absolute topper

Long the object of Calipari's call for more zeal, freshman Alex Poythress has been dunking rather than laying up shots lately. His 19 rebounds in the last two games are the most he's grabbed in any two-game stretch this season. That includes a career-high 12 against LSU last weekend.

"Alex's numbers are way up on the effort chart," Calipari said before adding, "He's still got a long way to go."

Etc.

Mark Jones and Jimmy Dykes will call the game for ESPN.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227 Twitter: @JerryTipton Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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