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Calipari praises Barnes again, but UT coach knows UK on a roll

By LARRY VAUGHT

Skal Labissiere and Derek Willis. (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

Skal Labissiere and Derek Willis. (Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics)

When Kentucky played at Tennessee, it led by 21 points 15 minutes into the game only to lose in Knoxville. The teams meet again in Lexington Thursday night at 7.

“They played great offense and (coach) Rick (Barnes) got them to play the way they have to play to win and that’s what he’s doing. Like I’ve said before, he’s one of the best coaches in the country. He’s one of the few that takes his culture with him to organizations,” Calipari said.

“As they get through two and three and four recruiting classes, Tennessee is going to look around and say, ‘This is the best program we’ve ever had here.’ What you’re seeing now is him setting the foundation of what it’s going to be to be a player there.

“Like, they didn’t go away. He doesn’t go away. They played the way they had to play. When they found something that worked, as Rick does, they just go right down that road and just keep coming at you with one thing, and one thing until you stop it. And that’s what they did to us. They kind of overran us.”

Barnes said before the UK win that he thought the Cats were hitting their stride before they gave away the 21-point lead to his team. Since then UK has routed Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

“When you think about it, we were down and played really out of our minds and played the best we’ve played at any point in time this year, to get back and fortunately win that game. They’re just playing great. I mean, I think their defense has been outstanding. I think the fact that the roles have been totally defined,” Barnes said.

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