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    UK Takes Momentum to Texas A&M

    Feb. 1, 2013

    Kentucky turned in its first victory over a ranked opponent behind a dominating second half performance and a school-record 12 blocks from freshman Nerlens Noel in an 87-74 win at Ole Miss on Tuesday. The Wildcats finished the game on a 14-2 run to secure the victory over the 16th-ranked Rebels.

    Gameday Information
    Kentucky at Texas A&M
    Sat., Feb. 2 - 6:00 p.m. ET
    College Station, Texas
    Game Notes: UK | TAMU
    Coverage
    TV: ESPN
    Radio: UK IMG
    Live Video via WatchESPN
    Online Audio
    Live Stats
    Text Updates

    Noel's 12 blocks ties the freshman for fourth all-time among BCS players for rejections in a single game. Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer poured in a career-high 26 points, while freshman Archie Goodwin tallied 24 in his fourth game of the season with 20 or more points.

    UK's matchup with the Aggies on Saturday marks the first rematch of the season for the Blue and White after dropping an 83-71 contest to Texas A&M in Rupp in mid-January.

    Scouting Texas A&M

    Texas A&M snapped a four-game slide with an overtime victory at Mississippi State on Wednesday. Senior guard Elston Turner averages a team-high 15.5 points per game and scored 40 against the Wildcats in the teams' first matchup. Fabyon Harris is the only other player in double-figures with 10.9 points per game, but the Aggies' five starters are the squad's leading scorers.

    Media Opportunity - Feb. 1, 2013

    Head Coach John Calipari

    On whether Archie Goodwin will guard Elston Turner …
    "I don't know yet. We'll figure it out. He may be. I know there's one guy not going there."

    On whether he believes Goodwin is ready to be the "shutdown" defender …
    "What we have right now, except for maybe Nerlens [Noel], are guys, when they make an error, they don't have the discipline to move on to the next play. So, if he takes a bad shot or turns it over, slips and falls and comes back and he's guarding their best player, he will get lost on a screen. A shot will go up, he won't block out or he'll leave his feet and foul. It's where he is. This is where Ryan [Harrow] is. It's where Alex [Poythress] is. We have a team full of guys like that. Everything we're doing right now, I'm teaching more life lessons than I'm teaching basketball because they've got to think different. We talked last night a little bit about Kyle Wiltjer again. Embarrassed after Vanderbilt; he's worked harder than he even believed he could work, which makes the games easier, so why wouldn't you do what he's doing? Let me tell you why. It's hard. 'I don't want to. I want what I want, but I'm not going to work like that.' Well, you're not going to get what you want then. I'm just hitting it home every day. 'I haven't not changed.' Alex, when I look at the numbers at Ole Miss, his numbers were way up on the effort chart, way up. Still got a ways to go. But, we are what we are right now. Last time we came off a good game or a good second half, we come out, start the game good and they make a run at us, which is the other thing we have to learn, when a team is making a run, I'll say it again for the world to hear. You take a great shot every time down, never take a contested shot because they're trying to make a run. You do everything you can to get fouled. Ball fake, do whatever you have to and then, because you're driving and not settling for jump shots, you should be able to get offensive rebounds. So, what did we do? What was every shot we took? A contested jump shot, a quick 3. You have to understand, every timeout I'm saying the same thing. So, again, their habits and their mindset, instead of gutting it out, 'This is going to be hard…' 'Let's see if I can just make this and maybe we'll win.' No. It's not going to happen that way. You're going to have to fight until the game is over. We've got one guy that doesn't think that way: Nerlens. He has that will to win. The other guys are more, 'Am I going to be the guy to make that mistake?' We're teaching life lessons about, you're going to have adversity in your life. You're going to be put in a position that you have to risk something to gain something. No risk, no reward. In other words, 'I'm not afraid to shoot the game winning shot because I'm not afraid to miss it. I'm not afraid to make the game winning play because I'm not afraid to flub it. And, if I do, I'll come back next time and I'll win the game.' All the great players, that's how they think. We don't think that way right now. But, we've got a lot of time and believe me when I tell you, every conversation, every meeting, I'm meeting them at nights together, let's get the team together for 15 minutes and it's not basketball. It's all life lessons."

    On what he thought of Noel's defensive play with four fouls at Ole Miss …
    "You tell them, you've got to play like you have three fouls. Just make sure you're aware, and on his fourth foul next to the basket, I said, 'Look, give him the hoop. Give him the basket. Don't get a fourth foul. Two points doesn't hurt us. You getting four (fouls) kills us.' But, I was going to ride him out because I know he's the one guy with the will to win on this team that you've got to have on the floor late, you can't win. Now, when we get to the point where we have, like we did a year ago, three or four guys with the will to win, that's when you win all the games. Well, believe me when I tell you we're not there right now. When a team makes a run, we don't have good thoughts. I do because I've done this for so long. I'm thinking, 'How are we going to win this game?' Not, "Uh-oh, we may lose. Oh my gosh.' I don't think that way. Its like, 'Okay, how are we going to win?' I'm trying to get those kids in my mindset, the same way. You make the play and if you miss a shot, 'You ready? Do something down on the other end to get it back. How about that?' So, if I miss a shot or turn it over, instead of thinking of the missed shot, 'How many points do I have now?' or, 'I have a…' Just think, what can you do down on the other end to get it back for us? But, you have to understand, that's what we're doing the whole practice, every meeting. Mindset, mindset, trying to get them to grow. Trying to give them the lessons they need when they leave us, that they're ready for life because you can equate all that's going on within this team. I told them, 'How many of you have worked hard to change?' They're all raising their hands. 'How hard has it been?' 'Real hard.' 'Has it been embarrassing?' 'Yeah, it's been embarrassing that I don't know this stuff.' It's been hard for them."

    On the team saying they that did not listen to his advice about Elston Turner in the first game …
    "We could have done some different things. We could have trapped him and made someone else beat us. It was not all what they did. We had the wrong guy on him. So you have the wrong guy on him, and the kid gets going, and he now has beer muscles, and all of the sudden he is making every shot. Beer muscles means that you are a weakling but you get beers in you and want to beat someone's brains in that is a monster. That is called beer muscles. I grew up in Pittsburgh; it was Iron City beer and a shot so that's what we got."

    On how challenging it is for Nerlens to be disciplined to learn to not leave his feet versus taking away some of the natural anticipation that has made him so good at blocking shots …
    "We do drills every day on guard play and big guys where we just come down and ball fake, ball fake, ball fake and try to get guys to leave their feet, every day. We start the game against Mississippi and the very first play, who left their feet and fouled? Were you surprised? We do the drills every day. We will do them today again. "We stay down; we are long, so why would you do that?" (Calipari mimics mumbling) "What? I can't hear you?" (Calipari mimics mumbling again) And we foul that way. We are working every day, but you can't cover everything. So you have to look at what are we doing? That is one of those things where early in the year, people weren't even trying to make shots. They were just trying to get them up over a big guy and you will get a layup on the weak side. Now we are working on a rotation blocking out. So if I am out the top and he moves, I go and hammer out that low guy. Well, if we are giving up all of these rebounds, it is something we aren't working on. Everything is new to these kids. Everything is an experience to them. I just want to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to. Forget about just basketball, it is teaching them the lessons of this. Stuff isn't always great but life is good. It's not always pretty, but it is good, better than the alternative. If things aren't going right, what do you do? You take the next right step. So if everything looks all right? Well, what's the right step to take? Well, keep taking the one right step to try to get yourself on a different path. When you don't want to accept that things aren't right, you don't want to change, and you don't want to think on those terms you can't change what is happening to you. Later in life, you are going to go through some of this stuff and you might as well learn it now. The greatest thing here is you are learning under the glare of all of this media and attention. These kids need to start getting ready for life now. It's thrown on you. I'm talking about separating yourself from anybody that's in your ear that's negative. May have to fire some people, don't, can't, 'let's take a month and a half and I'll see you in a month in a half.' Maybe a girl, maybe a friend, maybe somebody from back home. If they're negative, push them away. If you're in a business and this guy is negative and all he is, is negative, negative and your business is going down because he's negative I bet you're going to fire the guy or who is getting fired? You're getting fired. You just tell them, you have to stay positive and if there is anyone that is dragging you the wrong way, separate. Just tell them, 'I love you to death but you need to stay, give me a month and a half and we'll talk again.' There are all kind of lessons that we're going through. But I'll tell you, they've made strides, they were great in practice, they want to do this, they listen, they're coachable, it's amazing what they don't know nor should they know."

    On instilling toughness when the players are treated like rock stars …
    "They used to be like that here, now they're not being told so much they're great and all those things. Again, if you've never been tough and you have to change that attitude, that habit, that's the hardest thing. Now if you look at a guy that has no choice but to be tough maybe because of his frame or size, if you're not tough you're not making it, you're not going to make it at this sport. But that person has to accept that, you know what, its right so then you start that change to I'm going to play more aggressive. Well, how do you do that? You play a guy before he catches it, you have to be more alert. How about this one, you have to be lower. 'But my legs hurt, my legs hurt when I'm lower. I like to stand straight up and down, why would I bend over?' Because you have leverage when you're down, you can wedge the guy. As a guard, you get lower, you get open easier. The guy is not blowing by you, you're not going to grab and foul. 'I know but it hurts my legs to get down there and low.' That's what we battle right now, to tell them you have to get tougher and then the mental toughness, I'm going to say it again, you cannot be afraid to make the game-winning play. What's the worst that's going to happen? We lose. Next game. If we lose, I tell them the same thing, I'm taking responsibility for a loss, you're going to get the glory for a win so who cares. If you have a play to make, make it. We came out of a timeout pick-and-roll, dude falls on the floor, guy doesn't want to shoot it, he passes it. Do you remember two years ago down at Mississippi? The ball went to the wing with five seconds to go, just shoot it, don't even make it. They have no timeouts, they've got nothing. Hold it, five second call, they take it out, throw it and we lose. Well don't think we didn't have that a couple years ago. We had the same thing. We're working through exactly the same kind of stuff right now. When they get it and they understand this is not as bad and fall in love with the gym. I told them, if you don't love coming to practice and you don't love being around men, you're not making it at this sport. Now it's time, how do I make a living? It isn't going to be at this sport. If you don't love walking in there and excited and then when you leave you're sad, it can't be the other way. Walk in the gym, '[mumbles inaudibly],' and then when you leave, 'hey, where are we eating tonight? What's going on?' You're not making it at this sport. How about you don't like to be around men? You're not making it at this sport. It's like going underground at the coal mine. I was up there and I watched one guy walk and kick the other guy in the butt and they laughed like crazy. They're going underground, its life or death but they love being around each other. They're men. Men like being with other men, love it. Pick up football on Saturdays, you're still playing and you're married. 'I broke my finger honey.' 'How did you break your finger?' 'We're playing and we're going out for beers tonight, can you pull this finger out because I think I broke it?' You're men, you love being around men. It's the battle, that's what it is. If you don't like being around men, you shouldn't be playing this sport. I don't know where that came from. No idea."

    On Willie Cauley-Stein …
    "Willie went on and off yesterday, he'll be a game time (decision). But he practiced yesterday; I didn't have him practice the whole time. I wanted him in and out; we'll see how much he does today. My expectation would be, he may play a little bit but if I don't feel like it or the game is not going like I want we may just let him out another game, we will see."

    #3, Nerlens Noel, F, Fr.

    On when did he realize he was near a record performance…
    "I didn't think it was otherworldly. I know that's one of the better parts of my game is blocking shots. I mean, I do my best to do it at a high rate as well. I definitely try to stay on it the whole game. I wasn't sure that I had that many blocks until someone told me, but I'm never sure how many blocks I have. I just go out there and block as many as I can."

    On mentality after picking up his fourth foul against Ole Miss…
    "I mean it was one point where I was very cautious of the four fouls. Ryan's (Harrow) man went by him and he scored, and I knew I had four fouls, but I knew that wasn't how we were going to win the game with me just staying back and not blocking shots. I definitely took it to play smart and definitely avoid contact when they came to the basket. That's what I did. I just anticipated what they were doing trying to jump into my body, so I mean, I definitely always took a different angle at blocking the shots and away from the contact. So, I just did my best for that to stay away from contact so the refs didn't have to blow their whistle."

    On if he keeps track of his block totals…
    "No, I don't keep track, but I mean, some people tell me what the numbers are through games or something. But that's something I do want to break, but it's not really the focus of this season. I'm just doing my best for this team so we can have the best chance to go as far as we can."

    On what's changed for him over the last six games…
    "Just the mindset I have. I know I've got to step up for this team to have the success that is expected. I've got to take a leadership role and really apply myself to this team and give my all. Just really do my best for this team so we can meet our expectations if not exceed them."

    On why he decided to be more aggressive with four fouls…
    "I mean, Cal told me to stay cautious, but they needed me on the court. I didn't think I'd be as affective if I was just laying back and letting them score. I mean, we wanted to win the game, and I feel like that was a game that we really needed to win at that time in the season, so I mean, it was my choice to really get more aggressive, but just also playing smart at the same time."

    On balancing natural instincts versus discipline of blocking shots…
    "I was always like that. At the beginning of the season, I had a tendency of leaving my feet early to block shots. That's when I was coming up with maybe only two, three, four blocks a game. Coming from high school, it's just a whole different type of game, but Coach Cal definitely helped me with that. We did a lot of drills that got me right. I just got really adjusted to the game at this level, and it's really come a long way defensively for me."

    On the improved timing of his shot blocking…
    "Yeah, the timing's definitely better. You definitely get a feel for what players at this level's tendencies are because it's a lot different than high school. They try to get a lot more body contact, really just try to take advantage of shot blocking. But I still try to keep it equal. There's times where I won't try to block the shot, just hands straight up, just always have them guessing what you're going to do next."

    On causing people to have second thoughts when coming in the lane …
    "It's always nice to that, especially when you block somebody's shot and they don't look the same the rest of the game coming to the basket. It helps everybody, you can tell, you just have to play, even if they are a good shooter you just have to play the shot and I'll make sure to protect the rim. It could throw off a team's whole game plan if their specialty is getting to the rim, if they struggle shooting the ball. I just do what I do best."

    On Ole Miss players marveling at him during the game …
    "No, it was in the heat of the game. I didn't think they would say anything. After the game it was all love in the lines. We hugged it out and just told each other good game. They didn't say anything like that to me."

    On (Ole Miss player) Murphy Holloway saying he was a better shot blocker than Anthony Davis …
    "Anthony was a good shot blocker but that's nothing to get up about. I still have a long way and that's the only thing I'm really focused on right now, is working on my game."

    On needing his team to go far in the tournament to achieve team and individual goals …
    "It's not really an individual thing at all. It's about the team and I want the team to go as far as we can for the team, not just for a record that I want to break. If the team goes far it's for the team to win a championship and that's the main goal."

    On dominating a game with shot blocking …
    "A lot of people think it's about scoring but every team is always going to have two or three guys that are going to get a majority of the buckets. Defense is something that is undervalued on some teams; it could change the whole game in significant ways. That was what my focus was the other night, knowing that my offense wasn't going the way – I wasn't shooting the ball as much. On nights like that you just have to take 100 percent pride in your defense and just do the best for your team. I always have to find a way to be effective no matter what."

    On being able to silence a crowd with blocking shots …
    "It's a beautiful thing to just go in there and quiet them down, especially when they get high, bring them right back. That's what we were prepared for, that's what we were prepared to do, just go in there and do our thing and really play ball. I think that's what we did from the tip."

    On shot blocking being his thing…
    "My focus is to definitely be a complete basketball player and I know shot blocking is one of my specialties. I always took pride in it, just continue to build on it and it's probably been the best thing I've done."

    On how important Saturday's game is to follow up on the win …
    "It's real big. We definitely owe them something. We're definitely a different team from when we played them last. Certain players have stepped it up and started doing what they need to do for this team and playing a big role. We've changed a lot from then and it's going to be big for us to get this win and keep everything going the way we want it to so we can really completely turn that corner and make our own identity for who we want to be and how far we want to go."

    On taking pride in playing a guy that had 40 points the last time they played …
    "That's something we have to feel a certain way about. Somebody dropped 40 and we have another chance to play him. Whoever guards him, whoever is on the court that is going to guard him they have to, one of us is going to have to fill some type of lane and really have a certain type of determination to get in him and lock him down and not let him get shots off."

    #4, Jon Hood, G, Jr.

    On his recent playing time …
    "It felt good getting in, and to be able to help the team and be able to contribute in any way."

    On any extra motivation for Saturday's game against Texas A&M …
    "For sure. It's been that way since I've been here. Anybody that drops 25, 30 or 40 on us, we do not want that to happen again. We have a real sour taste in our mouth. We are looking to shut him (Elston Turner) down a bit."

    On the team's improvement since last playing Texas A&M …
    "Yeah, I think the team has improved tremendously. We are talking more and having fun. That's basically it, and we are running and playing harder."

    On Nerlens Noel's performance against Ole Miss  …
    "With Nerlens you do not get surprised with stuff like that. He is one of the best defenders that I have ever seen. He and Anthony (Davis) are up there. You do not get surprised with stuff like that, especially when you see it every day in practice."

    On who is the better-shot blocker, Noel or Davis …
    "I don't know, with Nerlens, he gives you the window to make you think there is a shot there and he just erases it off the backboard. Anthony (Davis) would just run down the lane and jump with you and hang it in the air. Nerlens would be harder to challenge because you think you have a shot at it and then here comes the flat top."

    #10, Archie Goodwin, G, Fr.

    On his main focus for the upcoming game …
    "I think I am trying to let the game come to me, and not forcing things like I have done in the previous few games. That's what I am really focusing on is playing for us."

    On feeling vengeful …
    "We all feel like we owe them. So we are going into the game probably a little more emotionally then we have in other games. Just because we should not have let them come in and do what they did."

    On what Nerlens Noel adds to the defense …
    "With him behind us it just lets you be more comfortable in getting into your guy, knowing that you have a defensive force behind you. Especially with the time he has on blocks he is a lot more disciplined than many guys who try to block shots. They try to jump out and block shots and he jumps up and he has the ability. With him being behind us it helps us out a lot."