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By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s not hard for Kentucky coach John Calipari to try and tell his players what to expect every game from opponents.
“You play at Kentucky. Isn’t it great that everywhere you go, it’s sold out. You’re the biggest game on everybody’s schedule; take great pride in that. That’s why you came here. Let’s prepare. We don’t prepare any different for any of the games,” Calipari said Friday. “I’m trying to get them a little more emotional and playing that way.
“I got a great call from a coaching friend of mine last night saying, ‘Look, you’re so close to it. Your team — individual players and your team — is getting better. Just keep on the path.’ That’s all we’re going to do. I’m not worried about any other team in the country. All I’m worried about is my team getting better. That’s it. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not even watching games. I’m watching the tape of our team at practice. I just want our team to get better. Whatever that means, we’ll be fine.”
Calipari often refers to UK being a “Super Bowl” game for opponents. Last week Texas A&M’s Elston Turner got 40 points in a win over UK. The next game against Florida, he scored four points.
“Vandy comes out of the gate the next game, Texas A&M comes out of the gate the next game. Auburn, they were talking about the (Kentucky) game at the Arkansas game. It’s just how it is when you’re playing here. It’s sold out. Last time they (Aubunr) sold out? Last year. They’re going to be all over it, and their kids play extremely hard,” Calipari said. “Tony (Barbee) is doing an unbelievable job. These guys are being coached exactly how they got to be coached. He’s letting the guys that need to (be) let go and play, he’s letting those guys go. The other guys are playing within themselves.
“What’s happened is, Auburn has bought into how they’re going to have to play. We have not. Like, individual players. It’s not, ‘Well, here’s how we play. Buy in.’ No. Here’s how you have to play, now buy in. And what he’s got is, every guy is buying into ‘This is who I am and how I’ve got to play for us to have success.’ We have not hit that yet. We have still – we’re convinced that, ‘Look, I can do this and we can still play good.’ Obviously it doesn’t look good to anybody else, but maybe as we go forward we’ll start changing. This is one of those ones that will maybe bring guys together.”