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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari admitted Monday that Tennesseeâ€™s win over Florida and Arkansasâ€™ victory over Mississippi State â€œcaught everyoneâ€™s eyeâ€ on the first day of Southeastern Conference play Saturday.
Both Florida and Mississippi State are ranked in the top 25 and are expected to challenge Kentucky (15-1), Vanderbilt and Alabama for the SEC championship.
Calipari says Tennesseeâ€™s upset â€œwas a surpriseâ€ but that both wins by the home teams were not that unexpected.
â€œBoth of those teams are being well coached. Both teams have talent to do it and must have played great basketball games,â€ said Calipari. â€œI have not seen the tapes and did not watch the games, but those two scores surprised me. But nothing on the road in this league should surprise you.
â€œLast year we were 2-6 on the road (in SEC play) and were only a basket or two away from winning the national title. People do not give these teams and coaches enough credit. Itâ€™s hard to win on the road (in the SEC).â€
Calipariâ€™s team starts SEC road play Wednesday at Auburn (10-5) and then goes to Tennessee Saturday.
â€œThe good news is that playing at Indiana gives them an idea of what the game are going to be like,â€ Calipari said. â€œEveryone of them will be like the Indiana game. Sold out. Standing room. One oâ€™clock people out in front of the building (waiting to get into the game). Are you ready for this type of challenge? Do you understand you have to bring it?
â€œThe execution of last yearâ€™s team cost us more than anything. We just were not ready (for SEC road play). We were not very good and were not playing the right way. Thatâ€™s my fault. I hope this yearâ€™s team is a little more advanced because I had a better idea how to play. But when last yearâ€™s team came together and figured it out, we were one of the better teams in the country.â€