Auburn's workmanlike big man, Rob Chubb, had an epiphany early in the game against Kentucky last season. Suddenly, he realized that competing against Anthony Davis was different.
The moment came as the two battled for a rebound.
"I was at full extension," Chubb recalled Thursday. "As high as I could jump. He was like a foot above me with the ball."
A mental light bulb lit.
"You can't out-jump him," Chubb recalled thinking. "So you're going to have to take his space and take away his legs."
Chubb, whose career averages going into this senior season were a modest 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds, enjoyed a surprising degree of success against Davis last season. Playing full-contact basketball, he had 14 points and eight rebounds to Davis' 14 points and six rebounds.
An approach from the Basketball 101 textbook enabled Chubb to hold his own. He kept his body (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) on Davis, which grounded the shot blocker.
At the beginning of the game, Chubb also neutralized Davis' greater vertical leap with shot fakes.
"Just give him a pump fake and he was going to go to the moon," Chubb said. "So that was pretty much what I was thinking a lot last year."
Once he established the fake, Chubb seemed to surprise Davis by going directly to the shot. As Davis waited for the fake, Chubb was up for the shot.
The intention was to keep Davis "on his heels," Chubb said. "Once he's uncomfortable and doesn't know what I'm going to do as an offensive player, it's pretty much playdough. I can just do what I want."
OK, it wasn't quite that easy for Chubb last season. But he did play well in Auburn's 68-53 loss to the Cats. He hopes to use a similar approach Saturday against another heralded UK freshman big man, Nerlens Noel.
"The fact that Noel is such an athletic guy, I have to lean on him so I can get him into the lane a little bit," Chubb said. "And do a couple fakes and see which one he bites on and take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself."
Chubb, who turns 22 next Thursday, saw Davis and Noel as similar challenges: Long, lean, athletic, talented.
"They're jumping jacks," he said. "If you give them space to gather and jump, they're going to out-jump almost anybody in the country."
Chubb is coming off back-to-back double-doubles: 12 points and 11 rebounds in Auburn's hard-to-swallow double-overtime loss at Arkansas on Wednesday and 16 points and 10 rebounds in a victory at South Carolina.
A native of Peachtree City, Ga., Chubb attended the same high school (McIntosh) as former UK standout Jeff Sheppard, whom he's never met. "One of those guys everybody was talking about," he said.
His height comes from his parents. His father, also named Rob, played basketball for Shippensburg University. He's 6-7. His mother, Bree, played volleyball for Tennessee. She's 6-2.
"I had tag-team coaches with my mom and dad," he said. "Dad taught me moves. Mom was all about ferocity.
"They kind of shaped me into who I am."
Kentucky at Auburn
When: 9 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)