UK basketball notes: Calipari says he missed Cauley-Stein confrontation

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 31, 2014 

Kentucky Coach John Calipari shrugged off — sort off — an in-game exchange between center Willie Cauley-Stein and assistant coach Kenny Payne at LSU. Calipari said Friday that he didn't see the exchange.

When asked what he thought, more generally, of a player challenging a coach during a game, Calipari said, "When emotions are there, yeah, they can come back. They can come back at times."

After a pause, Calipari added, "They better be right, though."

Bottom line: The camera reveals if player or coach was right about what happens in a game."A lot of times, guys are just trying to get away from their performance, and say whatever that comes out ... to make it not my performance," Calipari said. "But that's young guys."

50/50 balls

In a review of the loss at LSU, UK players apparently saw the so-called 50/50 balls that went to the Tigers.

"The tape went on and on and on and on," Calipari said. "... At times, we really tried (to get loose balls), and they tried harder. We fight for the ball that they still get."

Then it becomes an issue of the "viciousness" of opponents, Calipari said.

Missouri 'bigs'

Much attention is paid to Missouri's three-headed monster in the backcourt. Guards Jabari Brown (19.8 ppg) Jordan Clarkson (18.5 ppg) and Earnest Ross (14.5 ppg) are the Tigers' three players with double-digit scoring averages.

The trio is "as good as we'll play inside or outside of our league," Calipari said.

But "bigs" Ryan Rosburg and Johnathan Williams III contribute, the UK coach said.

"Very role oriented," Calipari said. "They do what they're supposed to do. The big kid (Rosburg) sets great screens and gets around the goal and makes baskets."

Rebounding is key

Missouri Coach Frank Haith stressed rebounding as a key. UK has a rebound margin of plus 10.4. Missouri's rebound margin in SEC play is plus 4.2.

Given UK's length, size and athletic ability, "We have to do a great job keeping (UK) off the glass," Haith said. "That's one of my biggest concerns. A huge key for us is keeping them off the boards."

Defending Randle

James Young (16.3 ppg) has supplanted Julius Randle (12.3 ppg) as Kentucky's leading scorer in league play. But that doesn't mean opponents don't plot how to contain Randle.

"We have to have great team defense," Haith said. "No one guy is going to stop him because he scores in a lot of different ways."

Keeping Randle off of the offensive glass is a good place to start, Haith said.

Third man

Haith saluted how Earnest Ross has handled playing in the shadow of backcourt mates Brown (SEC leading scorer) and Clarkson (early contender for SEC Player of the Year).

"We've got three guys who can have big nights," the Missouri coach said. "Earnest Ross is probably looked at as the third guy of the three, and he had 24 (at Arkansas earlier in the week)."

Ross, a transfer from Auburn, has scored double-digit points in 14 straight games and in 18 of Missouri's 20 games.

Etc.

While Missouri is 43-2 in home games since Haith has become coach, Kentucky is 2-5 away from Rupp Arena this season. The Cats have lost 11 of their last 13 games away from home dating back to last season. Alex Poythress shrugged. "We're just playing basketball" regardless of site, he said. ... Tom McCarthy and Clark Kellogg will call the game for CBS.

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

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