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Willie Cauley-Stein will be X-Factor in SEC title hunt

Willie Cauley-Stein - photo by Jamie Rhodes | USA TODAY Sports

– photo by Jamie Rhodes | USA TODAY Sports

's loss to arch rival Louisville may have been a setback for in-state bragging rights, but it also showed that this team has improved greatly over the last month. One player who stood out in particular was freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein, who usually comes off the bench but was put into the starting lineup against the Cardinals.

Despite his recent troubles at the foul line, Cauley-Stein's ability to rebound, clean up under the basket, block shots and play aggressive defense was a big reason why the Wildcats were still in the game against Louisville until the end.

If you've watched Kentucky basketball all season, however, this shouldn't have been a surprise. While his stat lines may not always be glamorous, Cauley-Stein brings an intensity and toughness that is sorely needed on this Wildcat team right now.

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