LEXINGTON — Kentucky has not lost since Dec. 10, is ranked No. 1 and can win its 30th game today at Florida.
The Wildcats are considered the favorite to win the national championship by many college basketball analysts, but sophomore forward Terrence Jones says there actually is less pressure on this year’s team than last season when the Wildcats surprised many by making the Final Four.
“I think there is less pressure on every player. Every player we have can step up and bring something to the table,” Jones said Saturday. “Not everything is depending on one player because we have so many players on this team that do something for us.”
Jones says the chance to be unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play if the Wildcats beat Florida has not been the team’s focus.
“We are just taking it one game at a time. We are really just worried about beating Florida knowing that they are a good team, especially at home. It would just mean that we are a step closer to larger goals that we want to accomplish,” Jones said.
Kentucky coach John Calipari says he has seen no signs of his players feeling pressure.
“No, I haven’t. But part of it is that two weeks ago I began the mantra that, ‘You guys are fine, just go play.’ I told them yesterday that over 100 practices I can’t remember a bad practice,” Calipari said. “We have been so consistent all year it’s been amazing. No game is more important and you are trying to get them to play every game out. It is really, really hard. But that is the challenge and that is what we are trying to do.
“Every game has its own importance for this program. We treat every game the same so it doesn’t matter who we are playing it is treated the same way. We will approach this game like every other game. One way you look at it is that it has no bearing on anything. Will we show up and play or will we let go of the game? We are going to find out about our guys. My thing is that you just want them to compete and if that is not good enough (that’s fine).”
The coach has never talked about an unbeaten SEC season making history, either.
“I don’t think I have ever talked about making history. I would like to make history to take our home-winning streak to 12 years. Here (at Kentucky), there is no setting records,” Calipari said. “You try to be the best team you can be and establish the excellence of a program.
“We are playing Florida, a terrific basketball team and a ranked basketball team on the road. It is going to be very hard for us to win. I am more concerned about my team. We have gotten better, now let’s see what we do with our last true road game. The rest of the games this season will be at neutral sites and we will have our share of fans.”
Sharing: Freshman Kyle Wiltjer says it’s easy to explain why the Cats share the ball so well this season.
“I think it’s because of how close we are. We all want to see each other succeed, so we just want to make the right play and make the unselfish one. That’s what we have been doing and that is why we have been successful,” Wiltjer said. When we’re shooting the ball well it really spreads out the floor, especially for Anthony and Terrence for lobs. It makes us hard to defend and hopefully we can keep it up.”