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Dangerous Vanderbilt worries Calipari

John Calipari, Kenny Payne, Dominique Hawkins (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

With all the hoopla about seniors Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder playing their final home game tonight, Kentucky coach John Calipari said not to forget about the opponent — Vanderbilt. He called Vandy “very dangerous” based on what he’s seen in recent games.

“They’re playing their best basketball. They’re making shots. They’re cutting hard. They played us all zone last time, and now they’re not playing zone at all. They struggled defensively and they’re not now,” Calipari said Monday.

“I tell ya, they’re playing and they’re playing together and they’ve figured it out. It’s like every team we play. It’s just all of a sudden they’re playing well and then they play us.”

Vanderbilt really has nothing to lose against Kentucky. Calipari often refers to that as playing with “house money,” something he didn’t want to say Monday.

“They may play it that way, and if they do, you’ll know. You’ll say, ‘Oh, these dudes are playing like it’s house money.’ Even though there’s something at stake. I think, again, they’re a NCAA Tournament team,” Calipari said.

“They’ve gotta probably win a couple games, but I would say they’re an NCAA Tournament team. They will have the No. 1 schedule in the country at the end of the regular season. No. 1.”

Calipari knows the pregame senior ceremony will be emotional for his team

“It’s a hard day because, you know, you remember them coming in. I remember watching them play in high school and Mychal (Mulder) in junior college. You know, you see their growth not only on the basketball court, (but) as people. You see the opportunities they’re now getting,” Calipari said.

“You think about all of the players they had to go against and you shake your head and say, ‘How’d they survive?’ And they’re all three going to graduate. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that’s there. And to see their families tomorrow and last game in Rupp (Arena), emotions will run high.”

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