The No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats (15-1, 1-0) embark on their first Southeastern Conference road game of 2012 as they travel south to Alabama to face the Auburn Tigers (10-5, 0-1 SEC) at 8 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.
For many of the Cats, it will be their initial SEC road taste test, but none of the Cats have played in the Tigers’ new basketball facility, Auburn Arena. Opened in 2010, the 9,121-seat venue offers the players the feeling the fans are right on top of them. The furthest seat from the floor is only 43 feet in elevation from courtside, compared to 60 feet in elevation at Auburn’s old arena, Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.
Auburn head coach Tony Barbee spent six seasons as Cal’s assistant at Memphis and played for him for four years at UMass. Tiger assistant Milt Wagner also served on Cal’s staff at Memphis as coordinator of basketball operations. In addition, Wagner was a teammate of UK assistant Kenny Payne at Louisville, where the two helped the Cards win the national championship in 1986.
AU Executive Director of Basketball Steve Smith worked as Calipari’s personal assistant at Memphis for six years. And Auburn Director of Basketball Operations Mike Babel was on Cal’s staff at Memphis for the 2003-04 season.
A historical look at UK-Auburn
What: No. 2/2 UK (15-1) vs. Auburn (10-5)
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Auburn Arena (9,121)
Game notes: UK | Auburn
Video interviews: Calipari, Teague and Vargas
Feature: Cal and the Cats to confront road demons of last year
Head coach: Tony Barbee (21-25 at Auburn)
Player to watch: Kenny Gabriel (11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.7 blocks)
Series history: UK leads 85-17
Last meeting: UK won 78-54 last season
Kentucky leads the all-time series with the Tigers 85-17. In games played at Auburn, the Cats are 27-13.
UK is currently on a 12-game win streak in the series with the Wildcats last loss coming at the hands of Chris Porter (22 points) and Kentuckian Daymeon Fishback (17 points) in a 66-63 Tiger win in January of 2000 (Fishback, who graduated from Greenwood High School in Bowling Green, currently serves as the color analyst for the Auburn radio network). Last year UK came out on top in Lexington 78-54.
Kentucky last played Auburn as the No. 2 ranked team in the country in the 2003 SEC Tournament, a game UK won 78-58.
- Most points by a Wildcat against Auburn: Dan Issel with 42 in March of 1970.
- Most rebounds by a Wildcat against Auburn: Jim Andrews in February of 1973 and Johnny Cox in February of 1958 grabbed 19 rebounds.
- Most assists by a Wildcat against Auburn: Dirk Minniefield with 13 dimes in February of 1982.
- Most blocks by a Wildcat against Auburn: Melvin Turpin in February of 1983 and Reggie Hanson in January of 1990 blocked six shots.
- Most made 3s by a Wildcat against Auburn: Rex Chapman with six in January of 1987.
Wildcat stats and trends
Darius Miller — Darius is now 55th on the Kentucky career scoring list with 1,014 points, nine points away from passing Bob Burrow (1955-56) and 27 away from passing Jim Line (1947-50) … Miller played a season-low 19 minutes against South Carolina … Over the last four games, Miller has connected on 8-of-16 3-point tries (50.0 percent) … His one rebound versus South Carolina ties his lowest rebound total of the season (North Carolina) … In the last six games, Miller has dished out 17 assists (2.8 pg), but over the four games he has committed 15 turnovers (3.8 pg).
Terrence Jones — Jones broke out of his scoring slump Saturday with 20 points, his second 20-plus point game of the year (Jones had 26 against St. John’s) … Jones has made 11-of-17 field-goal attempts in the last two games (64.7 percent) after making only 5-of-22 shots the previous three games (22.7 percent) … He has 12 offensive rebounds in the last four games (3.0 pg) … Jones has connected on 2-of-4 3-point shots over the last three games, raising his season 3-point percentage to 45.5 percent (10 of 22).
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — After scoring in double digits for seven straight games, MKG has failed to reach double figures in the last two games, scoring nine points in both games … He tied a season low by taking only five shots versus South Carolina … He has 13 offensive rebounds in the last three contests (4.3 pg) … In the last two games he’s handed out nine assists (4.5 pg) and committed only three turnovers (1.5 pg) … MKG has zero steals in the last three games and only one steal in the last six contests … In the last three games he is 3 of 8 from long-range (37.5 percent).
Doron Lamb — Through the first 11 games of the year Lamb averaged 16.7 points per game; over the last five games he’s averaging 10.0 points per game … Through the first 11 games of the season Lamb averaged 11 shots per game; over the last five games he’s taken an average of 6.6 shots per game … In the two games since making only 1-of-7 shots against Louisville, Lamb has made 7-of-12 attempts from the floor (58.3 percent) and 3-of-6 3-point shots … Since snagging zero rebounds against U of L, Lamb has totaled eight rebounds the last two games (4.0 pg).
Anthony Davis — Davis has put together five consecutive double-doubles, averaging 15.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game … On the season Davis has nine double-doubles … The big fella has made 18-of-22 free throws over the last three games (81.8 percent) … Since making only 3-of-7 shots versus Samford five games ago, Davis has connected on 27-of-44 attempts (61.4 percent) … Over the last four games Davis has swatted 22 shots (5.5 pg), raising his season block average to 4.6 per game, leaving him on pace to block 161 shots on the year (in 35 games played) … Currently Davis has 74 blocked shots, only six blocks away from passing Jamal Magloire’s UK freshman blocks record of 79.
Marquis Teague — The freshman point guard has 14 assists and eight turnovers over the last three games … After struggling from the free throw line in UK’s first 11 games, making only 15-of-27 tries (55.6 percent), Teague has rebounded to make 19 of 22 from the charity stripe over the last five games (86.4 percent) … Through the first 11 games of the year Teague took an average of 2.5 free throws; in the last five games he’s averaging 4.4 free throws per contest … Teague has recorded at least four assists in 12 of his16 games … He has only one offensive rebound in the last five games.
Kyle Wiltjer — His eight minutes versus South Carolina were his fewest in the last eight games … In his last 37 minutes of action, covering three games, Wiltjer has made 5-of-14 shots (35.7 percent), 1-of-5 trey tries (20.0 percent), grabbed five rebounds, committed four turnovers and scored 11 points.
Eloy Vargas — His 10 minutes against South Carolina represented the most floor time Vargas enjoyed since he played 17 minutes versus Samford … In his last 29 minutes of play, covering five games, Vargas has made 2-of-5 shots (40.0 percent), grabbed three rebounds, blocked three shots and scored four points.
Team — Kentucky is the only team in the country with six players averaging double-figure scoring … UK, in its 109-year history, has never ended the season with more than five double-digit scorers … The Cats lead the SEC in eight categories: scoring margin (21.8 points), field-goal percentage (49.1), field-goal percentage defense (35.0), offensive rebounds per game (41.8), offensive rebound percentage (40.2), rebounding margin (plus-8.8), defensive rebounds per game (28.3) and blocked shots per game (9.3).
Coach Cal on the Cats
On playing on the road …
“I’m anxious to see how we respond. Another sellout on the road, they’re going to go crazy and play well. We’re going to have to play well to have a chance. We need to get some road games under our belt to see what we need to do with our team. Last year we were 2-6 (on the road in SEC play). I also know, last year, at the end of the year we were the best team in the country. We learned along the way, and this team has a lot of learning to do.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET with television by the SEC Network. Stay tuned to CoachCal.com as Eric Lindsey and UK assistant John Robic will be along with a comprehensive scouting report on the Tigers.