Coming off a 69-66 loss to Utah on Wednesday night, the Kentucky Wildcats will be forced to take on the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes with their backs against the wall on Saturday afternoon.
During his pre-OSU press conference this afternoon, Kentucky head coach John Calipari told the media that immediately following their loss to Utah, the Wildcats are set to take on, in his opinion, the best team in college basketball.
“Listen, they’re one of the best teams in the country. That’s what we’re facing,” he said. “We’re playing, in my opinion, the best team in the country.”
Aside from the obvious – their top-five ranking – what does Calipari like about the Buckeyes?
“They’ve got a lot of guys that can score, but they are also good around the basket, which is why they’re as good as they are,” he said. “That’s why they’re rated where they are. They play physical, they’re a good defensive team, but you’re right, they have five or six guys that can shoot it. And what’s happening is, they’re shooting it at a high percentage, so it’s not as though they’re shooting 40 threes a game. But the ones they take, they make. At least, 40% of them, 30-something-percent of them, whatever it is, it’s a high percentage.”
Calipari also believes Ohio State’s star player, 6-foot-9, 270-pound forward Kaleb Wesson, will give his team fits in the frontcourt on Saturday.
“Good, strong, physical,” he said of Wesson. “Bully ball, will bully you under the rim, will wedge you under the rim to offensive rebound. He’s got a good touch, can step out and make shots. Like, the pick and pop, it’s real. The kid can make it. They do a lot of roll/replace, they’re good.”
As for his own team, Calipari said that while he hated how they played during the first 30 minutes of the Utah game, he was impressed with their fight in the last ten.
And if they want a chance against the Buckeyes, they’ll have to play that same way for all 40 minutes.
“The last ten minutes, I felt really good that we competed and that we played to win,” Calipari said. “We needed to make a couple more plays, we didn’t, and maybe we’re not ready for that yet. Now we’re playing, in my opinion, the best team in the country. Alright? So how do we play this? What do we do? They shoot it, they post it, they rebound it, they run good stuff. A lot of multiple pick and rolls, they bring bigs out, their bigs can shoot too. We’ve got a challenge, but you know what? It’s the next one for us. It’s like, let’s go out there and see where we are. It’s a great test for us.“