By LARRY VAUGHT
The last four years when Kentucky has gone to Tennessee to play, coach John Calipari’s team has lost — a trend that you know the coach wanted to change in today’s game in Knoxville.
“We’ve won some down there. I took a Memphis team in there and won. I think a couple of our teams here won,” Calipari said Friday.
His Kentucky teams have won three times in Knoxville, but they have lost six. That 3-6 mark at Knoxville is something UK fans notice a lot, especially those in southeast Kentucky.
“It’s not great, but it’s not 0-9. Anytime I’ve been in that building, it’s packed and it’s like a game and it’s a significant game,” Calipari said Friday. “This one will be.
“They’re a physical team. They play well. They’re well coached. They run their stuff. Defensively, they’ll grind you. They’ll press you. They’ll deny you. He (Rick Barnes) does a little bit of everything. It’ll be a hard challenge for us.”
Sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley remembers his first trip to Knoxville last year and how the Vols celebrated a big win over UK.
“Really just remembering how bad we played at Tennessee and then how good we played here at home and then the SEC Tournament was a really good game,” Quickley said. “That’s really what comes to my mind most.”
Quickley knows the rivalry impacts this game and fans from both teams.
“I think it’ll definitely still be pumped. Teams are really close, not too far, like three hours down the road. Tennessee, I’m sure their fans will be there screaming and yelling. One of my favorite places to play, honestly, since I’ve been here,” Quickley said.
“I thought that was one of the loudest crowds, so I think it’s going to be really fun to play at Tennessee.”