Kentucky coach John Calipari thinks that Tennessee is better now than they were when UK and UT squared off in Knoxville earlier this month.
Calipari said, “They’re better. All of them, they’re all better. (Jarnell) Stokes is getting more comfortable, but they’re all better. (Jeronne) Maymon is physical. He’s good. He scores. (Their) guard play is good. (Skylar) McBee is really playing as well as he’s played since I’ve seen him. Their other guards are playing good. They’re a good team. The only team that really got them was Vanderbilt. Every other game they could have won. Vanderbilt made shots. If they make shots against us they’ll beat us the same way they beat them. So Vanderbilt is really good.”
Calipari spoke of playing teams a second time, saying, “I’m glad it’s at home, I can tell you. I don’t know if it’ll matter but you know, we’re playing them again. We’ve got a bunch of other games. We’ll have to play a team twice and in all likelihood, you go into a tournament and you have a chance of playing someone three times.”
Did Calipari's earlier statements aid in preparing his team to play against physical teams?
“It’s prepared you all to watch it a little different too see what’s going on and now you can visually see it. The second thing I’ll tell you is that Terrence (Jones) played different down at Louisiana and that’s why we had some toughness. Michael is not going to change how he plays. He does what he does. Terrence has to give us that physical presence. If he gives us the physical presence, the other guys can do what they do. You can’t ask Kyle (Wiltjer) to do it and you can’t ask Eloy (Vargas) to do it. Unless you’re asking Anthony (Davis) to do everything, get rebounds, block shots, dunk, score and be tough, which you can’t ask him to do it. So, if Terrence battles, I’m going to tell you, this (Tennessee game) will be, to (play tough) will wear you out. This is going to be like the hand-to-hand kind of deal where running around, like I jog on the treadmill, that’s one thing. You go outside and play basketball and get bumped and grinded and all of the sudden you hurt in muscles you didn’t even know you had. This is going to be a body-to-body kind of play that’s going to wear people out,” said Calipari.