It seems character-building games can be like that second piece of cheesecake or third glass of wine. There can be too much of a good thing.
During the Southeastern Conference teleconference Monday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari said that No. 1 Kentucky can benefit from last week's overtime victories against two unranked opponents: Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
"You don't want to go through a season where you're never in a close game," he said, "because you don't learn about your team. You need to be down 10 or 12 (points) and see how they respond."
That said, Calipari added, "But enough is enough. We've had enough of these games, now. Let's get some games that are a little bit easier for us."
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However, Calipari suggested there won't be an abundance of easier games through the rest of the SEC schedule, which resumes late Tuesday night against Missouri in Rupp Arena.
Marcus Lee seemed amused when asked to explain the seeming illogic of not wanting more of a good thing.
"I don't know what Cal means by most of the things he says," Lee said. "That's why you guys are asking me."
Calipari's reactions to the overtime games varied wildly. Post-Ole Miss, he noted how unfairly various ESPN shows sounded alarms about Kentucky while proclaiming other college powers that faltered as examples of "the strong survive."
Post-A&M Calipari said Kentucky was not a good team, might be "stale" and needed time to "self-reflect." He also tweeted an Aaron Rodgers quotation to UK fans: "RELAX!"
Then, Monday, he declared that enough was enough.
"We can only take so much of that," Lee said of the highly entertaining, if nerve-wrecking games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. "You can still get a heart attack from that."
Karl-Anthony Towns translated. The Cats can benefit by growing even more accustomed to possession-by-possession tension.
"Games like that are going to make a team go further this year," he said before adding, "We just need to stop putting ourselves in overtimes (by) not playing defense correctly."
Lee and Towns noted the need to re-focus on the team's signature strength: Suffocating defense.
"We've got to remember what we always came out and started with," Lee said. "Once we found out what we're good at. We had to stick to it. That's what we're trying to go back to."
Earlier in the day, Calipari talked about the team losing its "swagger" and its focus.
Lee mildly disagreed.
"I'm not saying it was lost," he said of UK's swagger. "It was just re-directed."
That was a reference to the semester break, when Calipari urged players to work on adding offensive skills to their games. This would help keep the players "engaged" and striving for improvement rather than let an average margin of victory of more than 25 points breed complacency, he said.
"We took time to get better," Lee said. "Now, we have to go back to what we're good at."
When asked if the effort to become more diversified as offensive players became a "distraction," Lee balked.
"It was not a distraction," he said. "We as a team, you have to focus on something you need to change. So as we were focusing on it, we kind of forgot (about defense)."
When a reporter suggested that sounded like a distraction, Lee said, "No. You can't call it a distraction. Because when you hear the world 'distraction,' you hear something bad.
"This was all things good happening, and good things making us better. It's good things building us up. We just have to remember how to add it to what we've done so we can be better."
Assistant coach Kenny Payne, who substituted for Calipari at the regular day-before-the-game press conference later Monday, neither confirmed nor denied that the individual focus was a distraction.
"I don't know if that's true or not," he said. "I can't speak on that."
But, Payne added a moment later, Kentucky's calling card should not be offensive diversity. He called defense the "key" to the Kentucky team.
"We are a defensive team," he said. "That's what we are."