The Cardinals return three starters off last year's 14-15 team led by senior guard Dennis Trammell, who averaged 13.2 points and four rebounds per game last year.
Guard Peyton Stovall (7.2 points) was named to the Mid-American Conference all-freshman team last year and guard Matt McCollom averaged 9.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
"It's not going to come easy," said Kentucky senior Chuck Hayes. "They have some experience and some athletes on the team. The past few years they have been winning and getting that recognition they need. We are not taking them lightly. They have athletes and shooters. We have our work cut out for us."
Thirty-three straight under 50 percent
Kentucky, which has held 33 straight opponents to under 50 percent shooting from the field, got 12 points and 13 rebounds from Hayes in its opening win, but he struggled from the field as did junior forward Kelenna Azubuike. Hayes was 2-for-9 shooting and Azubuike 2-for-8.
"They made up for it with their leadership," Smith said. "That's something you'll see continuously this year. Chuck does it by getting to the boards and going to the free throw line.
"Kelenna needs to be more patient. I thought he missed a couple of shots that threw him off. He needs to be a little more active and more mobile against the zone. The zone has a tendency to make you stand around. He has to adapt his game. I also want to see him get more rebounds. He should average at least five or six boards per game."
Smith was not overly pleased with his team's passing in the opening game, either. He noted that freshman guard Ramel Bradley had six assists, but should have had more.
"He's an excellent passer. He probably should have had eight, nine or 10 assists," the Kentucky coach said. "He missed a lay-up when he probably should have passed. He threw one up under the basket when he should have passed. He probably should have had a double-double. He could easily have had 10 points and 10 assists. But we all need to pass the ball better and make that extra pass."
Kentucky started three newcomers - freshmen Rajon Rondo and Randolph Morris along with transfer Patrick Sparks - against Coppin State. All three are expected to start again tonight, but Hayes, one of UK's two seniors, says it takes time for a new team to adjust.
"We won't meet our peak until late in the season. That is what the games now are for and why you play pre-conference games," Hayes said. "We are relying on our athletic ability to carry us now, but once we get the defensive philosophy and fundamentals down, we will be good."
Note: Upper arena tickets remain available for upcoming home games against Tennessee Tech, Morehead State, William & Mary and Campbell. Tickets are $22 each and can be purchased at the Memorial Coliseum ticket office, Rupp Arena box office or at UKathletics.com.