Good afternoon, KSR readers. Everyone have a good weekend? And did anyone ever find out what the hell Russ Smith was doing in Louisville’s five overtime loss Saturday night? That was some comical basketball, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Louisville hater. It was some of the worst decision making college basketball has ever seen and it was even sweeter watching it happen right in front of a visibly furious Rick Pitino. But, enough about the birds and their downward spiraling season, we have our own big game to worry about. Let’s talk about it.
— Fresh off his 46th birthday party, John Calipari met with some of the finest media members in Lexington prior to Monday afternoon’s practice. He called the Florida Gators, Kentucky’s next opponent, a team that’s hungry to beat the Wildcats. He said the Gators will come out to “maul” and “blitzkrieg” Kentucky. Cal pointed out Florida’s three-point shooting and ability to score off turnovers as two aspects of the game they’ll have to focus on. They’re looking to guard Florida around the arc and be strong with the basketball to limit turning it over.
— He doesn’t know why, but Calipari thinks UK plays better on the road than at home. He said his Kentucky teams have always been that way, for whatever reason. “Maybe it’s the pressure of playing in Kentucky,” he said. “You’re expected to win every game.”
— There’s still a lot to work on individually, but Cal believes some of the guys are seeing what Willie Cauley-Stein, Jarrod Polson and Kyle Wiltjer have done recently and it’s motivating them to work harder. He said, “Everyone is starting to elevate their game because Willie’s energy, Jarrod’s energy, and Kyle’s practice habits.” He praised Cauley-Stein and Polson in his postgame press conference and radio show for the effort they gave against Auburn. If everyone makes the sacrifices they’re making and plays with the energy they’re exerting, Kentucky could be scary good. Two of the team’s most talented players — Poythress and Goodwin — will be the difference makers if they can do what Cal is asking from them.
— Archie Goodwin’s play has been very underwhelming lately, but he’s ready to return to form against Florida. Archie told reporters he’s made for big games like the one he’ll play in tomorrow night and he expects to play well. And if the the bright lights and first place Gators aren’t enough to motivate him, I’m sure his decline in minutes will also fire him up. Archie played a season-low 17 minutes against Auburn, 11 minutes shy of his season average. Seven other Wildcats saw more time than Archie against the Tigers.
— Archie is happy to be back in the AP Top 25 but he isn’t satisfied with cracking the rankings. “I’m pretty sure we want the No. 1 spot,” he told Jerry Tipton.
— Dick Vitale will call tomorrow’s night game. It’s going to be AWESOME, BABY!!!!
— Tomorrow night is a big night for the KSR/UK Alumni DanceBlue game watch parties. It’s the main event of the fundraisers, featuring parties in Lexington, Louisville, Chicago, Nashville and Washington D.C. We’ll have more details on the website later today so stay tuned if you’re around any of those cities and would like to attend/contribute.
— In UK Hoops news, A’dia Mathies was named SEC Player of the Week and espnW’s National Player of the Week. She led Kentucky to road wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt last week by averaging a team-high 21.5 points, along with five rebounds, five assists and 1.5 steals per game. The No. 9/8 Wildcats return home this week as they play host to No. 16/12 South Carolina on Thursday.
— Today’s Kentucky Sports Radio podcast can be found at TalkRadio1080.com. There’s a great call from Chester and an even better one from Kevin Slapnuts. Have a listen.