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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight remembers the defensive pressure Tennessee put on him the first time the two teams played Ã¢â‚¬â€ and he expects even more in todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You just have to stay in control and not let them get you rattled. You have to run the offense and just make sure youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re confident in what you do,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Knight Friday.
He had 12 points, three assists and two turnovers in UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 73-61 win, but also played just 30 minutes. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s played at 33 minutes in every other Southeastern Conference game and 35 or more in all but two games.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think I did pretty well the first game, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a different team at home so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be a different game,Ã¢â‚¬Â Knight said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a tough game,Ã¢â‚¬Â UK junior Darius Miller said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are talented and I know from past experiences how well they play at home against us. They also always do a great job crashing the boards against us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Brian Williams, a senior center, had 695 career rebounds Ã¢â‚¬â€ third best among active SEC players. The Vols have outscored 25 of 30 opponents in the paint, but they were outscored 26-24 at Kentucky.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tobias (Harris) and Williams and all those other guys around the goal are active. They get after it, they tip balls in. Hopefully weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re working a little bit (on that),Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very important that we hit the boards hard because they do a good job of crashing the boards. All of them go and go really hard so weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to have to keep them off the glass, especially offensively,Ã¢â‚¬Â Miller said.
Harris, a 6-8 freshman, has eight double-doubles and was highly acclaimed just like UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb coming into the season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Me and Tobias are close. He is a great friend,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones, who has 10 double-doubles, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really a great player, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Harris had 10 points and only two rebounds at Kentucky while Jones had 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. He also made a season-high eight turnovers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“On the court, we are not friends,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I invited him to come here and play with us, but he had to do what we best for him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Calipari and embattled Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl probably are not friends on or off the court and had several conflicts when Calipari was coaching at Memphis. The UK coach, though, wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t add to the controversy surrounding Pearl, who was suspended by the SEC for eight games for lying to the NCAA and still faces likely sanctions from the NCAA, or this perhaps being his final game at Tennessee.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think it will be (his final game). It will be Senior Night, a packed building. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think they are thinking about anything but beating Kentucky,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
The UK coach hopes his team built confidence with home wins over Florida and Vanderbilt and now can get only its second SEC road win before postseason play begins.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our team is getting better and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brought us a lot of confidence,Ã¢â‚¬Â Knight said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know I got a lot of confidence from our last win (over Vanderbilt) since it was such a close game, but it really helped our team overall.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very important. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be great to win and (give us) great confidence going into the SEC tournament,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just have to have a whole other mindset to play well on the road because of the trouble weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been having on the road. I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about having confidence all the time.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Miller knows, though, winning at Tennessee is not easy because of the rivalry.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to be ready to go, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to be ready to go and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be exciting to watch,Ã¢â‚¬Â Miller said.