By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has had to face some difficult consecutive games this season.
It played Auburn, Mississippi State and Auburn — three ranked teams — in an eight-day period. It played North Carolina in Chicago and at Louisville in consecutive games. Both teams were also ranked.
Of course, Kentucky went 5-0 in those games.
Now Kentucky hosts No. 19 LSU Tuesday night before hosting a national showdown with No. 1 Tennessee Saturday when ESPN College GameDay will be back in Lexington.
“This is going to be a harder set of games. North Carolina and Louisville, this will be a harder set of games. It is starting with this team (LSU) that comes in and everyone is looking by this game and talking about that next one. I am not,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
“I haven’t looked at one tape of Tennessee. Not one. I haven’t thought about them. I don’t know what they run. Well, I do know because they have the same team so they are probably running the same stuff. But, I haven’t done anything.
“My focus is let’s see how we are playing against this type of team, this kind of length. Those two teams are different.”
Calipari called these two games “Elite Eight, Final Four” type of games.
“Let’s see where we are. The good news is, whether Tuesday or Saturday, there will be more games. You are not like, ‘Well, your season ended.’ This is us to learn. Are we where we all think we are? Let’s see because we have to play the game,” Calipari said.
The UK coach is glad these games were not earlier in the SEC schedule.
“If we had played these two teams a month ago, . . . it probably would have been ugly. Now we’ve got a chance that we’re coming together ourselves,” Calipari said.
Kentucky has won 10 straight games and is 9-1 in SEC play, the same at LSU. Tennessee leads the SEC at 10-0.
“We know how good LSU is. We’ve just got to come out each and every game, play hard, play together, play smart and I like our chances,” UK freshman Immanuel Quickley said. “Great guard play, real versatile, real good on the interior as well. So we’ve just got to come out and do what we do.”
Freshman Tyler Herro calls it a big week.
“Not trying to look ahead, so tomorrow’s obviously the biggest game right now,” Herro said Monday. “Just go into that game with as much focus as we’ve had all year, hopefully get that W and focus in for Tennessee.”
Herro thinks the previous tests against ranked teams in consecutive games helped the Cats.
“I think the next stretch we have will be another test for us of just being focused and bringing it every day in practice and continuing to get better,” he said. “We can obviously compete with anybody.”