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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 — and he expects even more in today’s game.

“You just have to stay in control and not let them get you rattled. You have to run the offense and just make sure you’re confident in what you do,” said Knight Friday.

He had 12 points, three assists and two turnovers in UK’s 73-61 win, but also played just 30 minutes. He’s played at 33 minutes in every other Southeastern Conference game and 35 or more in all but two games.

“I think I did pretty well the first game, but they’re a different team at home so it’ll be a different game,” Knight said.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” UK junior Darius Miller said. “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.”
Brian Williams, a senior center, had 695 career rebounds — 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.

“Tobias (Harris) and Williams and all those other guys around the goal are active. They get after it, they tip balls in. Hopefully we’re working a little bit (on that),” Calipari said.

“It’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 we’re going to have to keep them off the glass, especially offensively,” Miller said.

Harris, a 6-8 freshman, has eight double-doubles and was highly acclaimed just like UK’s Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb coming into the season.

“Me and Tobias are close. He is a great friend,” Jones, who has 10 double-doubles, said. “He’s really a great player, too.”

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.

“On the court, we are not friends,” Jones said. “I invited him to come here and play with us, but he had to do what we best for him.”

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, wouldn’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.

“I don’t think it will be (his final game). It will be Senior Night, a packed building. I don’t think they are thinking about anything but beating Kentucky,” 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.

“Our team is getting better and that’s brought us a lot of confidence,” Knight said. “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.”

“It’s very important. It’d be great to win and (give us) great confidence going into the SEC tournament,” Jones said. “We just have to have a whole other mindset to play well on the road because of the trouble we’ve been having on the road. I think it’s about having confidence all the time.”

Miller knows, though, winning at Tennessee is not easy because of the rivalry.

“They’re going to be ready to go, we’re going to be ready to go and it’s going to be exciting to watch,” Miller said.

6 Responses to Cats know what to expect at Tennessee

  • Gary says:

    There were 3 games I worried about before the season started. Road games at Tennessee, Florida and Vandy have always been difficult games for Kentucky over the years. We’ve lost to 2 of those games already and the way we are playing on the road it’s hard to see them pulling this game out. Kentucky will have to dig down deep if they expect to win this game. I expect a hard fought game with defense and foul trouble deciding the outcome.

  • Don V says:

    Last chance for a road win and a tough one to get. Vols are always fired-up at home against the Cats. Pearl would rather beat Cal than any other coach and after he called upon security to have a heckler removed from Rupp you can bet he will have the fans in a frinzy. But we are Kentucky and we are capable of pulling one out. GO CATS

  • Andy P. says:

    Win this game and the BBN will be energized and descend on Atlanta like a swarm of locusts.

  • larryvaught says:

    All of you are right in these comments. This is do or die for the Vols and Pearl would love to rub it in Cal’s face. Will be a war.
    Remember the live chat with Ciprian during the game

  • Katbluefan says:

    Well you have Houston, from KY, having his Jersey retired, Hopson, from KY, wanting to show up his home state and Pearl under NCAA investigation and it will be very hard for the Cats to win. They will have to dig very deep and the Refs will have to call a fair game to come out with the WIN.

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