By LARRY VAUGHT
When No. 1 Tennessee plays at Kentucky Saturday night, no one has to tell Tennessee coach Rick Barnes what the game means.
“I think we all realize that every game is important this time of the year. Regardless of the rankings I think we are all concerned about seeing how well we can play,” Barnes said Wednesday after Tennessee beat South Carolina to stay unbeaten in league play.
“This time of year, there is still a lot of basketball to play. I know we have Kentucky next, but we have to start out next with what we did not do well tonight.”
Barnes, like most coaches, says he’s “concerned about every game” including the one with No. 5 UK — which lost at home to LSU Wednesday but has never lost two straight home games under Calipari.
“I play every game in my head before we play it. You think about all that stuff and I have a staff that does the same thing. I like to think that if everything goes in and we play the way we are capable of, we should be able to handle a lot,” Barnes said.
“There is no doubt that Kentucky feels that same way, they are a top-5 team and LSU is a top-10 team. They (LSU) have had a great year and have stayed underneath the radar a little bit. They have not lost an SEC game, so it was not like they (Kentucky) lost a game to somebody who cannot play. They lost to a team that is in a position to win this league as much as anybody.
“I know John Calipari well enough to know that he is thinking about how to make his team better from that game. This is the next one of the schedule and we have to be prepared to do what we have done.”