John Clay's notes: This is Calipari's best shot at a national title

jclay@herald-leader.com,JohnClayFebruary 9, 2012 

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UK head coach John Calipari argues a call in the first half. UK hosted Florida Tuesday, Feb. 07, 2012 at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer

JONATHAN PALMER

Random notes:

■ His first team boasted five NBA first-round draft picks. His second team reached the Final Four. But this is John Calipari's best Kentucky team.

His 2009-10 team beat three SEC teams by 20 or more points. Despite a 10-6 record inside the league, his 2010-11 team duplicated that feat. This Kentucky team has five wins of 20 or more points over conference foes. And it has six games to go.

Numbers are only part of it. The 2009-10 team may have been deeper, but it did not have a single player who had experience in the Calipari system. This team has three players in Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller who know what the head coach expects, what life on the road in the SEC is like, and what it's like to live under the microscope of the Big Blue Nation.

Now toss in possibly the best basketball player in the nation in (a) Anthony Davis or (b) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, plus an improving point guard in Marquis Teague, and you have Calipari's best chance at a national championship.

■ I loved the right-on comments from Florida Coach Billy Donovan about the disposition of the UK players. That is especially true of Davis, who I don't remember scowling or preening or gesturing after any of his record-setting 120 blocked shots this season. He just gets ready to block the next one.

(Same goes for his voluminous array of lob dunks.)

■ CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish on Anthony Davis: "The six-foot-10 freshman has one long eyebrow and two longer arms."

■ SI.com's Luke Winn: "If L.A. is Lob City, Lexington is Lob U."

■ Florida has now played Kentucky eight times when UK was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Florida has lost all eight. But here's the real fun fact: Kentucky is the only No. 1 team that the Gators have ever played in the regular season.

■ Louisville looks (and plays) like a different team than two weeks ago.

■ Say what you will about Eli, Brady and Gisele, but the ratings show that Madonna's halftime entertainment was the most-watched segment of the Super Bowl.

■ Good news for the Cats: Doron Lamb's shot is back on track. The sophomore has scored 18 points in back-to-back games, hitting 12 of 15 shots, including seven of eight three-pointers.

■ John Calipari got a dig in at Vandy's Kevin Stallings on Tuesday. Stallings has complained that UK has an unfair advantage because the Cats don't have to play any Thursday-Saturday SEC combos. Kentucky travels to Vandy on Saturday.

"They changed the benches, right?" said Calipari in his post-game news conference. When told Vandy still has the same baseline benches, he said, "They didn't. See, that's a problem. ... That's an advantage."

■ Kentucky went 11-for-11 from the foul line against Florida. The Cats had not had a perfect game in which they had taken at least 10 foul shots since Dec. 19, 2009, against Austin Peay.

■ One of the odder sights: Seeing Bruce Pearl sitting in one of Rupp Arena's high-roller seats on Tuesday night.

■ Louisville and Memphis just can't quit each other. They were together in the Missouri Valley, then the Metro, then Conference USA, and in 2013-14 they will be reunited in the Big East.

That is if Louisville doesn't go to the Big 12 first.

■ Tuesday brought bad news of the death of former UK basketball player Jim Dinwiddie. Funny what you remember. Dinwiddie was the featured speaker at one of my YMCA Church League banquets back around 1970, give or take a year. He was the first Wildcat I met in person.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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