How daunting is this week’s slate of No. 19 LSU followed by No. 1 Tennessee? John Calipari said it’s not only the hardest stretch of games his team has played this year, it’s usually the murderer’s row a team faces to earn a spot in the national championship.
“These two, you have games that are Elite Eight games. Final Four games. That’s who you’re playing now.”
“If we had played these games a month ago, it would have probably been ugly,” Cal added. “Now, at least we’ve got a chance since we’re coming together ourselves.”
Saturday’s showdown with No. 1 Tennessee is stealing the spotlight, but Calipari insists he’s only focused on No. 19 LSU, which he believes should be a top ten team.
“This is going to be a harder set of games. North Carolina, Louisville — ready? This will be a harder set of games. It starts with this team that comes in that everybody’s looking by this game and talking about that next one. I’m not. I haven’t looked at one tape of Tennessee. Not one. Haven’t thought about them, don’t know what they run. Well, I do know because they have the same team so they probably run the same stuff, but I haven’t done anything. My focus is, let’s see how we’re playing against this kind of team. This kind of length.”
LSU’s got length, athleticism, and a heck of a point guard in Tremont Waters. Calipari also praised the Tigers’ resolve, mentioning how they’ve rallied from big deficits in conference play, not unlike his own team.
“They’re not afraid. Neither are we. We play the same. We’ve been down. We’ve been down 12, 2, 16, 4, looking at each other. If I remember Georgia, it was dunk, dunk, dunk. ‘What in the world?’ So we’re kind of the same. That’s why it’s going to be an exciting game.”
Not even the fact that this game is at home gives Calipari any solace.
“This is going to be a hard one. A HARD game. And a hard game for us to win. I don’t care if it’s at Rupp Arena or I-95 because of the way they play. If we can give a full 40 it should be a terrific ballgame.”
Kentucky’s riding high on a ten-game winning streak. Will this week put a one-seed within reach or bring the Cats crashing back to Earth? Calipari can’t wait to find out.
“This is for us to learn. Are we where we all think we are? Let’s see.”