When asked — again — about the possibility of an undefeated season, Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein noted the precarious nature of college basketball.
"The college game is so different (from high school)," he said Friday. "One game you can be really good. Another game, you can be really bad, and it's just the draw of the night."
Cauley-Stein acknowledged how "pretty consistent" No. 1 Kentucky has been in rolling up a 12-0 record going into Saturday's showdown with No. 4 Louisville. The Cats have won every game by a double-digit margin.
But he declined to project ahead to a still-possible 40-0 record.
"It's too early to tell," he said. "We're in December still. We have a lot of games ahead of us."
At this stage, the Cats are not thinking of an undefeated record.
While not addressing the question of an undefeated season, UK Coach John Calipari seemed to suggest that the team's wealth of depth can lessen the possibility of an off night leading to defeat.
"The good news is if one group is not (playing well), you try another group," he said. "It's a little different than just hang on, 'Oh my gosh. What do we do?'"
For Kentucky, the platoons of players create many options. "'OK, you don't have it,'" Calipari said as if speaking to ineffective starters. "'You guys go.'"
Big Game Willie?
But he did not embrace the notion of rising to the challenge of big-time opponents.
"I don't really look at it like that," he said. "I kind of look at it (as) I'm kind of battling against myself, and that's the way I've gone into every game. ...
"I kind of go into it with a clear mind. Not look at the big picture like that. Just look at the small things, and everything else will take care of itself."
Cauley-Stein defined the small things as staying active, being a "rover" on defense, and sprinting the floor.
In two games last season, Andrew Harrison held up well against Louisville's pressure defense. He had nine assists and five turnovers in a total of 72 minutes.
Harrison credited the defensive pressure he faces against Dominique Hawkins and EJ Floreal in practice as good preparation.
Calipari saluted Hawkins and Floreal as "two good, strong athletes who get up in you and body you."
Six of seven
As Kentucky coach, Calipari has won six of seven games against Rick Pitino.
When asked how the competitor in Pitino deals with a 1-6 record, Calipari said, "I don't think he's worried about it. All he wants to do is win this one."
Calipari suggested all coaches must learn not to personalize defeats.
"I don't go against a coach and say, 'How many times has he beaten me?'" Calipari said.
Kentucky will be playing its first game on an opponent's court. And then some, Cauley-Stein said.
"It's going to be at full effect where this is going to be the craziest first road game for us," he said. "I can only imagine what it's going to feel like for the freshmen."
Calipari turned down his usual bump-scratch-bite descriptions of Louisville's pressing, trapping style of defense.
When asked what UK had been working on in preparing for the game, he said, "the 'physicalness' of the play. You have to be prepared to play through the bumps, and all those kind of things. Rebound in traffic with a body on you."
Calipari welcomed a comparison of Louisville's physical play to Texas' style.
"Very similar," he said. "Only Texas doesn't do it full court. You're not going to have body-to-body in the backcourt (against Texas). You will in this game."
What did I do?
Aaron Harrison understands the UK-U of L rivalry. But he said he is surprised to be the target of ill will.
"I don't feel I've ever done anything to them," he said as reporters laughed.
Working the game
Referees assigned to the game are Karl Hess, Roger Ayers and Michael Roberts.
Announcers working the game are Dan Schulman, Jay Bilas and sideline reporter Shannon Spake.