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January 25, 2013When John Calipari met with the media Friday, he didn't mention Lousiana State, his Kentucky basketball team's next opponent.
He wasn't asked about LSU (10-6, 1-4 Southeastern Conference), which visits Rupp Arena on Saturday.
For one reason or another, the Wildcats (12-6, 3-2) have struggled to find consistency in this so-far disappointing season.
Kentucky needs wins. And getting back on the winning track is less about the opponent than about what the Cats need to fix internally.
"All we have to worry about is getting better," Calipari said. "If we don't change, we don't have to worry about (the NCAA tournament)."
If the players do change, Calipari said, resumes, bubble talk and the NCAA Tournament will take care of itself.
"If we change, we don't have to worry about all that," he said.
Calipari didn't exclude himself from needing to change. It'll be a team effort if the Cats can turn this season around. But with its bench short as is and Willie Cauley-Stein's availability for Saturday still up in the air, UK is running out of options.
"There are some guys who shouldn't be playing but about four or five minutes that are playing 30," Calipari said. "They really don't deserve to be on the court, but where we are right now, they've gotta be out there. Or we've gotta sit them and take the consequences, which is the next step."
He didn't elaborate as to which players he was talking about, but the good news for those unnamed players is they will get a chance to prove themselves against a struggling LSU team.
The Tigers have lost four of their last five and six of their last ten, and the Bayou Bengals have never beaten UK with Calipari as coach. If UK wants to build momentum and confidence, Saturday is the time to do it.
"Either we go ahead and take that step to be really good now or we're just going to be very disappointed because the seasons going to be over before you know it," guard Julius Mays said.
LSU will test UK by playing quick and trying to force turnovers. The Tigers forced 24 turnovers, including 19 steals, in a win this week against Texas A&M.
UK forward Kyle Wiltjer said he didn't know much about LSU besides they were "scrappy." He said UK could go over the Tigers in practice on Friday.
But come Saturday, the Tigers are just another team on the schedule, and a chance for UK to build some momentum and turn the season around.
It will be another chance for the Cats to win.
"I hate losing," Wiltjer said. "I would hope everyone has the same passion to win but definitely yesterday's practice we came out and made sure we were on each other, to be loud and vocal.
"We can embrace this and have fun and that's what I've been doing the past couple days, practicing hard and having a good time with it."