January 19, 2013
Freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein did not make the trip to Auburn for Saturday's game after undergoing a minor procedure for a knee injury earlier this week, according to coach John Calipari.
"Willie stayed home so he could get a double dose of treatment so we can get him back sooner," Calipari tweeted.
With his absence, UK's short bench gets already shorter.
They'll also have to replace a player who has played an increasingly more important role as of late. Cauley-Stein averages 20.9 minutes, 7.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, and has been in the starting lineup in each of the previous five games.
To make up for those 20 minutes and that production, UK will likely have to rely on players who already have significant roles to step up even more -- namely, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer.
Can they? Poythress has played 15, 23, 23, 21 and 24 minutes in his past five games. Wiltjer has played 19, 22, 14, 19 and 26 minutes in his past five.
They may both have to play 25-30 against Auburn to make up for Cauley-Stein's absence, especially because there are really no other backups in the frontcourt, and Nerlens Noel is about maxed out on court time. He's played 31, 32, 34, 39 and 38 minutes in his last five games.
So Kentucky will continue its already shaky start to SEC play with a game on the road against 8-8 Auburn -- while missing one of its seven major contributors.