|No. 4 Kentucky looks for help up front vs. Auburn|
No. 4 Kentucky is expecting to without power forward Reid Travis for at least a few games because of a sprained right knee.
That means more playing time for sophomore Nick Richards and freshman EJ Montgomery, starting Saturday afternoon when the Wildcats take on Auburn in an SEC game in Lexington, Ky.
Montgomery is averaging 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game. Richards is averaging 3.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 10.7 minutes.
Calipari said Friday that he wants to see Richards use his athleticism and to avoid getting into "mud-wrestling matches inside." The coach also said that he could use star forward PJ Washington at center in more small-ball lineups.
"He'll be begging Reid to come back sooner," Calipari said of Washington.
Kentucky (22-4, 11-2 SEC) is led by the 6-foot-8 Washington, who is averaging 14.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. He is averaging 20.7 points in the past nine games.
Travis, averaging 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds, was injured in Tuesday's 66-58 win at Missouri. Calipari came away pleased, despite his team's uneven performance.
"For us, this is a big-time win," Calipari said after the game. "It's a road win. In this league? You win on the road in this league, you got something done."
The victory came on the heels of an 86-69 home victory against then-No. 1 Tennessee last Saturday.
"These kids aren't machines and they aren't robots," Calipari said. "We just played Tennessee. It was the hyped-up game and this, that. To come on the road, with a team that you know plays hard ... I knew it was going to be a war."
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl also was happy with his team's most recent game -- a lopsided victory against Arkansas on Wednesday.
The Tigers had a new starter for the game, as Pearl inserted senior wing Malik Dunbar, who responded by making two 3-pointers and a dunk to set the tone for the game during the first five minutes.
The Tigers (18-8, 7-6) raced to a 22-1 lead and never looked back in a 79-56 rout.
"I just try to worry about defense," Dunbar said. "I'm not trying to worry about the offense as much. I'm just trying to be in the right spots and let the offense come to me."
Auburn's margin of victory was tied for the third-largest at home against an SEC opponent since 2010.
"That's a really great win for our program," Pearl said. "We got off to a very good start and made shots. It was a dominating effort against a good team in the SEC, so it should be a good thing to build on."
Auburn made 10 of 19 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 17 3s, the second-most it has made this season and the most since having 18 in the season opener.
"We just play our game plan," forward Anfernee McLemore said. "We shoot a lot, and hopefully we make a lot. I feel like anybody on the court can make a 3, one through five."
Kentucky edged Auburn 82-80 in Rupp Arena on Jan. 19. That started a stretch in which the Wildcats have won 11 of 12, while the Tigers have gone 5-5, winning their last two.
--Field Level Media