On Thursday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari made like Moses coming down from the mountain with commandments.
Rather than stone tablets, he used a greaseboard in the locker room to convey the words to live by.
Calipari summed up his advice in a cautionary triplet that could be basketball's version of stop-look-listen.
Calipari asked the players to ponder three questions:
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■ Are you playing as hard as you can; if not, why?
■ Are you making the easiest play; if not, why?
■ Are you doing what the coach asks you to do; if not, why?
"Why am I fighting this?" Calipari said in explaining the point he wanted to play on the Cats' minds. "Why am I trying to do something else?
"If the answer is positive to all three, that would make us really, really good."
But as recently as Tuesday against Mississippi, Kentucky continued a familiar pattern of building a big lead, then bumble for a while, thus allowing the opponent to catch up.
After the game, a reporter asked Calipari what it might take for the Cats to break this bad habit. "I don't know," the UK coach said, seemingly thinking aloud. "Maybe lose a game or two because of a play that's uncalled for."
LSU, the only winless team in the Southeastern Conference, figures to make solid play all the more important in Saturday's game. At 0-8 in the league and 9-13 overall, the Tigers struggle to score. LSU is averaging a league-low 56.4 points in league play (or 25 points fewer than UK). The Tigers rank last among SEC teams in points, three-pointers and shooting accuracy from inside and outside the three-point arc.
Talent is one reason. As LSU Coach Trent Johnson said recently, "Certain people, quite frankly, are better than we are."
Johnson found it ironic that LSU honored Pete Maravich before Thursday night's game against Tennessee and will honor Rudy Macklin on Saturday.
"I find it ironic that we are honoring Pete Maravich and the 40th anniversary of breaking Oscar Robertson's scoring record," the LSU coach said this week. "Then, Kentucky rolls in, and we are hanging Rudy's jersey in the rafters. The way we've been struggling to score, we could sure use the left arm of Maravich and the right arm of Rudy."
Since that won't happen, LSU must march on with an offense that ranks 276th among 347 Division I teams in points, 253rd in shooting and 321st in three-pointers per game.
So the Tigers hold the ball, a contributing factor in anemic point totals: 38 and 49 in two games against Alabama, 51 at Mississippi State and 54 against Tennessee.
When asked about LSU, Calipari said, "I'm more worried about us."
The UK coach suggested that the loss to South Carolina should free Kentucky to move beyond the goal of an unbeaten record. Now the Cats can concentrate on playing well, which ties into the three questions Calipari wrote on the greaseboard.
"It's all about seeding (for the NCAA Tournament)," he said. "Getting better. Playing our best basketball in March."
Calipari said he would ponder how to get DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton on the floor at the same time, reducing the minutes logged by freshmen John Wall and Eric Bledsoe and the Cats learning how to grind out a victory in a possession-by-possession test of wills. Wall and Bledsoe are averaging eight turnovers as a tandem each league game.
There was no alarm in the UK camp Friday about these questions still hanging in the air about a month before the post-season. Kentucky depends on a freshman-oriented lineup.
"Normally, my teams this week or next week start getting it," Calipari said. "But I've never had a team this young."
Not only young, the players are rebels without a clue, the UK coach suggested. He noted how "Show time" usually follows the building of a big lead. Or the players just don't understand what must be done and how it must be done, the coach allowed.
Although the numbers and the SEC standings say Kentucky can win in Baton Rouge despite the bad habits, a cautionary coach simply can't see it that way. Calipari said he planned to show the players a tape of LSU making plays against Tennessee on Thursday. The Cats should expect more of the same Saturday.
"They didn't have the crowd against Tennessee they're going to have against us," Calipari said. "It'll be a different environment and a different team we'll play."