Given his team's overall lack of experience and six-man rotation, Kentucky Coach John Calipari took a long time to get seldom-used players into Saturday's rare blowout victory.
UK's lead over South Carolina fluctuated between 28 and 36 points over the final 10 minutes, yet Calipari did not clear his bench until fewer than two minutes remained.
Team concerns trumped potential individual benefits, Calipari explained Monday on the Southeastern Conference's coaches' teleconference.
"We've got to get better as a team," he said. "If I'm going to play six or seven, then those six or seven have to get better. That's the first thing on my mind."
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Calipari noted that deep in the game South Carolina continued pressing, which caused a few turnovers.
"I didn't want the game to become one where I had to put players back in," the UK coach said.
"I'm working the (team) psyche now, too. ... I'm not worrying about anything else but my team."
Calipari asked the reporter why he (Calipari) should change how he'd handled substitutions all season? The reporter noted how Calipari had repeatedly said only "demonstrated performance" in the games could create a player's self-confidence. So how could those reserves get confidence if not allowed to play in a game Kentucky led by so many points?
"If (South Carolina) wasn't pressing, I probably would have" substituted more liberally, Calipari said. "But they were pressing, so that's why I didn't do it. When they backed off and went zone, I said, 'OK, let's get those guys in.' "
Florida leads the Eastern Division by two games with four to play. But storms clouds gather.
The Gators have a challenging schedule remaining with road trips to Kentucky and Vanderbilt, plus home games against Georgia and Western Division-leading Alabama. All four have winning SEC records and boast a combined league mark of 32-16.
If that weren't challenging enough, one of Florida's most versatile and productive players, forward Chandler Parsons, remains sidelined because of a deep thigh bruise.
"Right now, I'm not personally overly optimistic that he'll play" against Georgia on Thursday, Florida Coach Billy Donovan said. Beginning with Georgia, Florida faces a stretch of three games in six days.
Parsons, the hero in Florida's Feb. 5 victory over Kentucky, did not play at LSU on Sunday.
Mississippi State sophomore Renardo Sidney, the subject of repeated criticism for inconsistent effort and a suspension for fighting in his half season of play, has been producing lately. In State's past five games, he's averaged a double-double: 14 points and 10.8 rebounds.
"It's the first time people have come down on him hard," Stansbury said of the criticism Sidney's received. "That can be good if it's a good motivator."
Though tied with Florida for the SEC's regular-season championship and already assured of winning the Western Division, Alabama remains unranked in this week's media and coaches polls. The Tide did not receive a single vote in the coaches' poll, and its 15 points in the media poll left it far behind No. 25 Xavier's 103.
"I really hadn't paid any attention to it," Coach Anthony Grant said. "For us, we're excited about the opportunity we have in front of us (and) excited and proud of what our team has accomplished up to this point."
For the fifth time, the SEC named Terrence Jones its Freshman of the Week. That made Jones one of only four players to be named Freshman of the Week that many times.
The other three are James Robinson of Alabama (six times in 1990-91), John Wall of Kentucky (five times in 2009-10) and Chris Jackson of LSU (five times in 1988-89).
Jones averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in Kentucky's victories over Mississippi State and South Carolina last week. He recorded double-doubles in each game to increase his league-leading total to 10.
The SEC named Tony Mitchell of Alabama its Player of the Week.