Kentucky’s task at West Virginia is a tall one, but John Calipari has never been one to shy away from a challenge. Instead, he sees it as an opportunity.
“We probably have the challenge of challenges, playing who we’re playing and how they’re playing, on their court where they just don’t lose,” Calipari said on the SEC teleconference. “I’m excited for the challenge and I’m excited for the team to see where we are right now. Thank goodness we’re still in January. We still have a solid month and a half to get this thing right.”
Last year West Virginia only lost twice at the WVU Coliseum. Their only loss in Morgantown this season was a second half collapse to Kansas. The Mountaineers were ranked No. 2 in the country at the time. The 71-66 loss started a four-game skid that features three losses.
“It’ll be an interesting one. West Virginia is really good,” Cal said. “They’re a veteran team, really physical, defensively press, disrupt, deny. They’re a top five team. I know there’s some other teams that may be ranked above them, but I’m gonna tell you, in a one-game contest, they’re hard to beat.”
Coach Cal’s greatest challenge is to get his team to respond to West Virginia’s physicality. In road losses to Tennessee and South Carolina, they simply got out-toughed. Calipari will know after Saturday’s game if his team is prepared to meet his tough demands.
“We’re a little bit behind, whether it be execution, toughness; some of the stuff you have to have, we’re behind. But we’re trying to figure things out and we’ll see where it goes.”