Metaphorically speaking, Rupp Arena will see two ships pass in the late afternoon Saturday: luxury liner Kentucky and a Mississippi team that appears up a creek without a paddle.
UK steams along as the nation's No. 1 team, winner of 17 straight, owner of a 49-game home winning streak and on target to become only the third team since 1956 to go through the Southeastern Conference regular season unbeaten.
"We're just trying to keep this ship going in the right direction," UK Coach John Calipari said Friday.
Apparently, Thursday's practice exceeded steady-as-she-goes.
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Doron Lamb was "ridiculous," Calipari said. "I don't know if he missed a shot." Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made 62 three-point shots in a five-minute span, or one every 4.8 seconds, on average, said Calipari, who added that any coach either cheers or drags a team toward ever better performances.
"Right now, I've been cheering," he said.
Ole Miss is dragging.
The Rebels can only hope that they hit their nadir Thursday night in a 102-76 home loss to Vanderbilt. That marked the second-most lopsided loss in Andy Kennedy's six seasons as coach.
"We were just disgusted with our performance tonight," forward Terrance Henry told reporters.
After the game, freshman Jelan Kendrick, the first McDonald's All-American to play for Ole Miss, and junior Reginald Buckner had to be separated.
"You guys would be amazed at what happens on a day-to-day basis," Kennedy told reporters of the incident as he took questions in his post-game news conference. "You got a little taste of it tonight. ... Emotions were real high, and guys made comments or actions that, obviously, we can't have."
Calipari suggested that the prospect of playing in Rupp Arena will unite the Rebels and propel them to a better performance.
"They're probably going to come in here ready to go to war," the UK coach said. "They're playing in Rupp Arena. You know they'll be ready to go."
Long before being drubbed by Vandy, Ole Miss had problems.
Kennedy noted how an injury to forward Murphy Holloway roiled the waters. So did the decision to dismiss leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson as SEC play began.
"It's been three or four different teams within a team," Kennedy said of this season for Ole Miss. "Once we came to the conclusion that, 'Hey, this is who we are,' guys embraced it. ... We refer to it as 'embracing the grind.'"
The Rebels rank last in league play in free-throw percentage (59.3), tied for last in three-point baskets (4.1 per game) and next to last in turnovers (159 in 11 games).
"And still be living to talk about it," Kennedy said earlier in the week. "That's kind of where we are."
Ole Miss (15-10 overall, 5-6 SEC) must be good in the "effort areas," Kennedy said. The Rebels rank first in rebounding margin at plus-5.7, which probably inspired Calipari to say, "If they have their way on the backboards, they beat us."
Of Ole Miss's struggles to score, Kennedy said, "I have yielded on quantity for quality now. I don't ask for a lot of quantity anymore. I just want the shots we do make to be quality shots (and) timely shots."
Kennedy jokingly (?) lamented how the 35-second shot clock requires a field-goal attempt, depriving the Rebels of the chance to rely more heavily on defense and rebounding.
Without the shot clock, "we could really play to the strength of this team," Kennedy said, "and try to beat somebody 8-6."
Meanwhile, Kentucky breezes along. "Happy, not satisfied," as Calipari said again Friday.
That Mississippi lost by 26 Thursday night or that tempers flared between two Rebels players hardly registered for the Cats.
"We take every game seriously," Lamb said. "We think every game is a big game."
Kentucky seeks the 16-0 SEC record but doesn't fret about it.
"If we lose a game or two, it won't hurt us," Lamb said in reference to the greater goal of the NCAA Tournament.
Lamb was oblivious to the post-game altercation between Ole Miss players.
"I'm not worried about their team," he said, "or how they're playing."