By LARRY VAUGHT
After facing North Carolina, a top 25 team, and Louisville, an obvious rival, in its last two games, Kentucky opens Southeastern Conference play against Alabama.
The Crimson Tide is not ranked and has a 9-3 record. Alabama is also not projected as a team that will finish in the top half of the SEC.
Yet UK freshman Keldon Johnson says not to worry about the Cats’ emotional state going into the game.
“It’s SEC play. It’s all important now. It’s been important. We’re excited for every game because we know it’s a chance for us to get better each and every day,” Johnson said Thursday. “We’ve grown a lot I would say (the last few weeks). We’re out there trusting each other and things like that. I think we still have a lot of improvement (to make) too.”
Redshirt freshman Jemarl Baker, who has seen his playing time increase since the departure of Quade Green, says the team did a lot of conditioning in recent days after the Louisville win.
“Cal’s been preaching that lately, so we’ve been working really hard to try to prepare as best as we can,” Baker said. “We’ve been real focused, paying attention to everything Cal has been having to say and just working hard, working really hard, competing and being confident in everything we’ve been doing as a group.”
While it seems the Cats have found the same “mojo” they had in August when they were so impressive during a four-game exhibition trip to the Bahamas, Johnson said it’s just part of the process that Calipari preaches daily.
“We’re just trusting each other, playing as a team. We’re just enjoying the process, enjoying getting better every day and just enjoying each other,” Johnson said.
“That’s just the main thing. You can see we’re having more fun out there. We’re playing as a team. We’re talking more. We’re doing everything more and the plan is just to get better each and every day.”