NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Darius Miller had every reason to be upset. Ticked off. Downright mad.
The Kentucky senior guard with true bluegrass pedigree was heading to the bench, replaced by a kid who just turned 18.
Miller's reaction? Not a peep.
He went about helping the new freshmen find their classes. Offered to drive them somewhere if they needed it. Pushed them to join him in the weight room.
If Miller has an ego, it can't compete with his drive to win it all with the Wildcats. He just might pull the true Kentucky trifecta in the process -- Mr. Basketball for the state, Kentucky high school champion and an NCAA title winner for the school he grew up loving in Maysville, Ky., about 65 miles away from Lexington.
Miller may or may not start in New Orleans when the Wildcats (36-2) play Louisville (30-9) on Saturday in the national semifinals. It hardly matters.
He's not a sixth man; he's Kentucky's sixth starter.
"He's our senior," freshman Marquis Teague said Thursday. "He knows what it takes."
Miller has always walked a delicate line. He was signed by Billy Gillispie, who was fired at the end of Miller's freshman season.
Coach John Calipari quickly weeded through the mishmash roster but liked Miller's ability to pick up the dribble drive offense, his unselfishness and his size. All the while, Miller had to deal with the spotlight of the school's rabid fan base that's starved for its first title since 1998.
"It was different for me. It took some adjustment living in I guess what you would say is fishbowl. ... Everybody sees what you're doing, pays attention to what you're doing," Miller said. "When we're around campus, people know who we are. We've got to watch what we do. We can't do anything silly."
Miller worked his way into a starting role -- 69 times in 76 games over his sophomore and junior years as Kentucky went deeper each time in the NCAA tournament. Then, Calipari hauled in his third straight No. 1 recruiting class, and Miller became the odd man out to freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Kidd-Gilchrist felt bad for bumping his teammate, went to Calipari and offered to go to the bench to give Miller back his starting role. Miller didn't want that. He said he wanted what was best for the team, what gave them the best chance to win.
Kidd-Gilchrist stayed. Miller sat with only one spot start over nearly two months until the SEC tournament final. This time, when Kidd-Gilchrist again told Calipari to consider a switch, Miller was in the starting lineup. Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt, but it sparked Miller in time for the NCAA tournament.
"For him to be able to do something like that, that meant a lot to me," said Miller, is averaging 14.2 points in the last five games. "Just the way he showed support to me and the way the coaches showed support by letting me start in the SEC tournament, that meant a lot for me and got me going."
Against Iowa State in the third round of the NCAA tournament, he scored 12 points in the second half to break open a tight game. In the regional semifinals against Indiana, he did it again after halftime, scoring a dozen more against the Hoosiers to help avenge one of Kentucky's two losses this season.
"He's been on several great teams where he had to be a leader, one of the oldest guys on the team, who's already been through it," Teague said. "Anytime we're getting rattled or it's getting a little hectic out there, he huddles us up and gets everybody to calm down."
It's that experience everyone is leaning on. This would seem to be Miller's moment.
"It's his second Final Four and an Elite Eight," Kentucky guard Doron Lamb said. "He's been through everything. He's played a lot of games, so he knows what it takes to win games."
Still, there's a personal hole in his resume. He's never had a memorable performance against Louisville in four previous meetings.
The first two years he played the Cardinals, he didn't score a point. He's never reached double figures against them, and in Kentucky's 69-62 victory on Dec. 31 he managed more turnovers (a career-high eight) than points (seven).
"The rivalry is huge," Miller said. "It's been nice for me to grow up in the type of environment like that, being able to see it my whole life. There's been some great games."
Knowing so much, Miller has learned exactly what to tell his teammates about it -- nothing at all.
"I don't even tell them, really. I don't try to feed into it or anything. That just puts more pressure on the team. That's something we don't need," Miller said. "If somebody asks me about it, I'll be like, 'Yes, it's a big rivalry for people in the state.' But they don't need to worry about that.
"They just need to worry about playing basketball."