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By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman Doron Lamb says KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s problem on the road in Southeastern Conference play have not hurt the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s confidence as it prepares to play at Arkansas tonight.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We feel confident. EverybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happy, smiling while weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re having great practices and doing what Coach (John Calipari) tells us in practice. If we keep doing that, then weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to win our games on the road,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Lamb. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We really stepped it up on defense and focused on rebounding (the last two home games). We had more rebounding as a team and if we keep doing that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to win a lot of games.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Calipari just wants No. 22 Kentucky (19-7, 7-5 SEC) to continue to execute and play with no fear of losing like it did last week while beating Mississippi State and South Carolina.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to play to win. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s kind of like prevent defense in football prevents you from winning,Ã¢â‚¬Â the UK coach said Tuesday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Playing not to lose leads to losses. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to play to win. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to know the clock. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to know that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re up double-digits, you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to look at the score. You know. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re down, you speed it up. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re up, you try to work clock and score when you have the opportunity. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all stuff weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re learning.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He shortened the last two practices even though he has not cut back to the normal 75 minutes he would have a team practicing in late February because he felt this team needed more coaching.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The issue has been this team needed to be coached. This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team just has so much to do you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just say weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re good where we are. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not good where we are. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to get better. And theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re getting better,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
However, to prove the Cats are better, they need to win on the road at Arkansas (16-10, 5-7).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll probably talk to them about is that weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got two more road games. After that everythingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s neutral (in postseason play) and our fans are everywhere. So letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s use these to get better. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s look beyond just wins and losses. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s start playing better,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
He knows winning at Arkansas will not be easy. The Razorbacks are 14-3 at home and have wins over Tennessee and Alabama.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think they play really hard. They have talented guards and their big people are huge, very athletic. The sprint the ball up court, run good stuff in the half court. They are a good team,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Their big people are throwing lobs at the rim. This is a team that is a dangerous team. They probably think they can beat us and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to lighten them up. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a war. Every game we have from here on in is a war. We either have to bow the necks and play or you get beat.Ã¢â‚¬Â