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January 11, 2013

Kentucky hosts new SEC foe Texas A&M Saturday

After narrowly escaping Vanderbilt Thursday night, Kentucky faces a quick turnaround to the its Southeastern Conference home open Saturday.

But only having 41 hours between games will force the Wildcats to prepare for Texas A&M (11-3, 1-0 SEC) - a first-year SEC opponent - instead of dwelling on the negatives from Thursday's win.

And despite winning a dogfight against the Commodores, John Calipari won't give his team much rest.

"There are some things we have to do (Friday) that there is no question we have to do to get ready for tomorrow," Calipari said.

Most of the things UK will work on are the same things Calipari tried to fix during "Camp Cal," like toughness, rebounding and making the extra effort.

"We didn't rebound," Calipari said. "We weren't physical, (Vandy) blocked us out, we didn't block them out.

"Alex (Poythress) is what he is and we threw that ball to him three times which led into charges. That was us. If you throw it backwards to him he's going to - because the defense is standing there - if you throw it back he runs in and runs people over. We did it three times. That kind of stuff, which was dumb."

The Cats turned it over 16 times against the Commodores. Calipari said the Aggies will try to force turnovers and play physically. Texas A&M is forcing an average of 13.4 turnovers per game.

Calipari also expects the Aggies to play a zone, the same defense Vanderbilt used in the midst of its 18-0 Thursday.

The Cats practiced all week against a zone but when push game to shove Thursday night, UK looked unprepared.

"We didn't put the ball where it was supposed to go on three or four different occasions," Calipari said. "Plays that were easy plays for us to make, we didn't make. Our shooters weren't prepared."

On offense, the Aggies remind Calipari of Kansas, the team UK defeated in the national championship last season.

"They're a post-up kind of team, a la a little bit of Kansas," Calipari said. "Corner cuts and high-lows. Screen-and-fills from behind with bigs and bigs and trying to go from high to low."

But Calipari is putting more of emphasis on getting his team prepared, in hopes of remaining undefeated in conference.

"We're not worried about A&M," Calipari said. "I'm worried about my team. These guys will see A&M tomorrow at the dinner, prior to the game."

KENTUCKY (10-4, 1-0 SEC)
Coach: John Calipari (112-18 in fourth season at Kentucky; 515-156 in 21st season overall)
Last game: Beat Vanderbilt 60-58
Roster | Stats
TEXAS A&M (11-3, 1-0 SEC)
Coach: Billy Kennedy (25-21 in second season at Texas A&M; 236-200 in 14th season overall)
Last game: Beat Arkansas 69-51
Roster | Stats
Pos. Name Yr. Ht./Wt. PPG RPG
G Ryan Harrow So. 6-2/170 9.7 2.4
G Archie Goodwin Fr. 6-5/198 15.6 5.1
F Nerlens Noel Fr. 6-10/208 10.5 9.1
F Alex Poythress Fr. 6-7/239 13.5 6.3
F Willie Cauley-Stein Fr. 7-0/244 7.7 6.1
Pos. Name Yr. Ht./Wt. PPG RPG
G J'Mychal Reese Fr. 6-1/177 7.6 2.8
G Fabyon Harris Jr. 5-11/173 10.2 1.8
G Elston Turner Sr. 6-5/209 15.5 3.6
F Kourtney Roberson So. 6-9/238 6.2 6.2
F Ray Turner Sr. 6-9/233 11.8 6.7
Game/Series Information
Game Information
Site: Rupp Arena (23,000), Lexington, Ky.
TV: SEC Network (Clay Matvick play-by play, Joe Dean Jr. analyst); SEC Network affiliates.
Radio: UK IMG Sports Network (Tom Leach play-by-play, Mike Pratt analyst); Sirius 93/XM 199).
Internet: Audio | Video
Favorite: Kentucky by 14

Series Information
Series record: Kentucky leads 2-1
At Lexington: Kentucky leads 2-1
Coaches' records: Calipari 1-0 vs. Texas A&M; Kennedy 0-0 vs. Kentucky

Last meeting: Texas A&M 73, Kentucky 69, Dec. 22, 1978 (Lexington, Ky., UKIT)
In Kentucky's second loss in a 15-game span in UKIT games, the Aggies got 22 points from Vernon Smith and 20 from David Britton, upsetting the 11th-ranked Wildcats at Rupp Arena. UK got 15 points and seven assists from Kyle Macy. Chuck Aleksinas added 14 points and six rebounds and Lavon Williams 13 points and seven boards. Like the current Kentucky team, that one was the defending NCAA champion.

Keys to the Game
1. Mr. Versatililty: No Aggie poses more defensive challenges than guard Elston Turner, a senior who's in his second season at Texas A&M after transferring from Washington. Turner leads the Aggies in scoring and is second in assists. He shoots 42.4 percent from three-point range and can crash the glass (he grabbed eight rebounds against Arkansas). Turner has scored in double digits in 37 of the 46 games he's played at Washington and has scored a career-high 26 points twice this season.

2. Board Work: For most of the season, Texas A&M has been a solid if unspectacular rebounding team. Its average rebounding margin is +3.9, which ranks eighth in the SEC. But in the Aggies' lone conference game, they crushed Arkansas on the boards, outrebounding the Razorbacks 51-27 in a 69-51 win. That included 19 offensive rebounds. Kentucky can ill afford to allow A&M to repeat that performance. The Wildcats gave up 20 offensive boards to Vanderbilt on Thursday, the fourth time this season an opponent has had 16 or more offensive rebounds against UK.

3. On the Road Again: Texas A&M will play only its second true road game of the season on Saturday. The Aggies won the first, 70-58 at Houston on Dec. 1. A&M's losses this season have come on neutral sites (against St. Louis and Oklahoma) and at home (to Southern). But the Aggies have had success at Rupp Arena. The Aggies went 1-1 there in the 1978 UKIT, beating UK and losing to Illinois, then - under the direction of Billy Gillispie - advanced to the 2007 NCAA Sweet 16 with wins at Rupp against Pennsylvania and Louisville.

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