By LARRY VAUGHT
From the time he got to Kentucky, John Calipari has never been a fan of the Southeastern Conference Tournament even though the Cats have been dominant in the tourney under Calipari.
Kentucky will get a third chance to play Tennessee — a team that pounded UK two weeks ago — in the tourney semifinals Saturday if both teams win their first game in the quarterfinals Friday.
However, that wasn’t what had Calipari — and probably most UK fans — excited after UK beat Florida Saturday just a few hours after Auburn upset the Vols.
“The most important thing that happened: Instead of playing at 9:00 (CST on Friday as the third seed), we’re playing at 6:30 (actually 6). I’m not the guy any more that’s like at 9 and 10 at night, I’m dancing and moving,” Calipari said.
“That time, I’m a little tired. I’m very happy that we’re playing at 6. I can do this at 6 o’clock. Nine is a questionable time for me. ”
Sophomore PJ Washington, who had 15 points and nine rebounds in Saturday’s win over Florida, said the players had no trouble figuring out that being the No. 2 seed was a big deal to Calipari.
“Coach talked about it as soon as we got to the locker room. We definitely know how big it is and we can’t wait,” Washington said.
Kentucky will play the Mississippi-Alabama winner in Friday’s quarterfinal at 6 p.m. CST.
“I heard there’s going to be more Kentucky fans. Fun experience, but we obviously want to win the SEC Tournament,” freshman Tyler Herro said.
What about a possible matchup with Tennessee?
“Should be fun. They got us back a couple weeks ago, but it will obviously be a tough game. Taking it game by game,” Herro said.
Freshman Keldon Johnson was a little more coy.
“I don’t really know anything about it (the SEC Tournament),” Johnson said. “I’m kind of new to this.”