By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari admits he doesn’t know much about Davidson, UK’s opponent Thursday at 7:10 p.m. EST in Boise, Idaho, in the NCAA Tournament.
Davidson won its first Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Championship Sunday with a 58-57 victory over top-seeded Rhode Island. Peyton Aldridge is the A-10 Player of the Year and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while Kellan Grady, the conference’s Rookie of the Year, hit the game-winning shot Sunday and had 17 points. Aldridge had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Davidson (21-11) won despite going almost 13 minutes between field goals in the second half
“I know they won their tournament and they’re playing well. They run good stuff. They run a lot of — Tennessee and their coach, Rick Barnes is a good friend, so a lot of stuff Tennessee runs they run,” Calipari said Sunday night after his team returned from St. Louis where it won the SEC Tournament. “I remember a game early in the year they had 30 3-pointers made, so they’re a 3-point shooting team. But I have not watched them.”
Kentucky was given a five seed and would have to play either Arizona or Buffalo on Saturday if it beats Davidson. Arizona is the No. 4 seed in the South Region where top-ranked Virginia is the No. 1 seed, and a possible opponent in the NCAA South Region semifinal in Atlanta.
Calipari, like always, joked that Kentucky was in the toughest region and would have to play Thursday rather than get an extra day of rest after playing Sunday.
“Anchorage or Boise?” Calipari asked when he first mentioned the site where UK would be playing. “It is what it is. They’re not going to make it easy for us. They could all say this is all by the numbers and all that, okay.
“I would have been shocked if we got a 4 seed. I would have been shocked. I would have been stunned. I’m not. I always say when you mis-seed somebody, you’re not hurting that person or his team. It’s who he plays is who you hurt. That’s Wichita State (in 2014). Just it is what it is. But I like how my team’s playing and we’re going to go play some basketball games in Boise. Which state is Boise in?
“I’ve been to Idaho by the way. I’ve been to Jackpot, Nevada which is right across the way. I’ve been to Twin Falls. I was on their campus. Great place, it really is. I’ve been to Idaho.”
Obviously, it was the swaggy Calipari that came back to Lexington because he really liked what he saw from his team in St. Louis — even with Jarred Vanderbilt not playing due to a foot/leg injury.
He admitted he thought UK might have a chance to be a No. 4 seed for winning the SEC tourney, but that brought him back to his point that the only reason for conference tournaments was to have fans travel and spend money.
“It doesn’t help your seed. I’ll tell you this, do you think it would hurt if we lost early? It did hurt,” the UK coach said. “The year we went to the NIT we lost that first round game, we were in the NIT. So it can hurt you, but we’re not going to let it help you.
“Why are we doing them? I come back to that. It’s good for the kids. I was happy to see their faces and how they played. But it was more about them and us being together and figuring stuff out than playing in a tournament. Three games — we’re going to end up, if we’re lucky enough and we get to the second round, we’d have to be lucky. That’s five games in eight days. That’s five games in eight days.”