By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman Tyler Herro has already heard plenty about what the atmosphere is going to be like at Auburn Saturday afternoon.
“They said it’s going to be loud. We’ve had a few road environments so far, so I think just adapting to it early and I think we’ll all be fine,” Herro said.
Auburn has beat Kentucky the last two times it has hosted the Wildcats and Herro knows the Tigers certainly have the talent to do that again. Auburn is a 4 1/2 point favorite going into the game.
“They get up and down, shoot a lot of 3’s like a few teams we have seen already this season,” Herro said. “It’s going to be a fun game, good atmosphere. Just playing defense, limiting their 3’s. They’re going to make a few shots, but just staying with each other and competing.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari joked Friday that Auburn might take 35 3’s in the game.
“If you really guard them and you really guard the 3, they are going to shoot 35 of them. They do it off the bounce, they do it off the catch, they do it in transition, and they do it in pick-and-rolls,” Calipari said. “But, they also got (Austin) Wiley, who’s a heck of a post player, and they are very active rebounding the ball. They’re a really good team. They are really good.”
Kentucky wanted to make sure it defended the 3-pointer Tuesday at Georgia — and the Bulldogs opened the game with five dunks.
“We really guarded the 3 and they dunked every ball on us. This is a work in progress, it really is. Trying to get guys to conquer themselves first, you can’t feel pressed about your performance; you’ve got to lose yourself in the team,” Calipari said.
“What does the team need you to do has got to come before what you’re trying to do or what you think you need to do. That’s going to be an ongoing thing. We’ll all know. You’ll be able to see it when you say, ‘They’ve blended, man. They’re engaged with each other. They’re doing it for 40 minutes.’ We’re not there yet.”
Herro said Calipari has been emphasizing making sure opponents have to shoot over outstretched hands of UK defenders.
“It makes the shooter think a little bit before he shoots. Just putting our hand up early and getting out to shooters,” Herro said. “They shoot a lot of 3’s. Coach said they’ve had a few games where they’ve attempted, I think, 40 3’s a game. Just being there early, not allowing them to get the shots off and when they do get it off, it has to be contested.”
Herro said UK works on 3-point defense daily.
“Just not leaving corners and not allowing a wide-open corner 3, having a hand up early on close-outs. Just being there early will be key tomorrow,” Herro said.