As Kentucky steamrolls through this regular season, many college basketball observers sum up the chances of a UK defeat in one word: fuhgeddaboudit.
Some Southeastern Conference coaches face the prospect of a lopsided loss to the Cats with a similar resignation: Forget about it. Don't let a loss to No. 1 Kentucky adversely affect your self-esteem.
The message: Kentucky is such an unusually good opponent, teams should see the loss as an aberration. That's what Missouri Coach Kim Anderson said he wanted his players to do after losing 86-37 at UK last week.
"I'm not sure who's going to beat them," Anderson said on this week's SEC coaches' teleconference. "They played outstanding. We played horrible. When that happens, good things don't occur.
"So we try to forget about that game, to be honest with you. We're just moving on."
Before Tuesday night's game, Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings voiced concern about his team's confidence. As Willie Cauley-Stein said after a 70-48 victory at Alabama last weekend, Kentucky players not only want to win, they want to demoralize opponents.
"I'm hopeful that is not something I have to worry about," Stallings said. "But their defense is truly amazing. So hopefully it doesn't happen to where our confidence doesn't get dinged any more than it is."
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said he could see the wisdom of not dwelling on a loss to Kentucky. But he was not an absolutist about it.
"You have to be able to face what happened in the game," he said. "And look at it and say, 'OK. How can we be better from this? What can we learn from this?' And that's all we're trying to do.
"Hopefully, we have enough mental toughness and leadership on our team to where we'll be able to learn from that and (then) shake off that loss and go out and give the best effort in the next game."
The loss to Kentucky was the most lopsided defeat for Alabama in Grant's six seasons as coach. He became the eighth opposing coach to suffer his most lopsided defeat against Kentucky this season.
When asked what he hoped his team learned from the 22-point defeat, Grant said, "Kentucky's awfully good. But we can play better."
Losing to Kentucky hasn't always been an awful experience. Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said a defeat in double overtime encouraged his players.
"We gained some confidence out of that even though it really hurt us to lose," he said. "Because we felt we gave the game away by not making free throws and not coming up with a big stop that would have put the game away."
'Hello, Rupp Arena!!!!'
There's a simple premise to UK's high-volume halftime shooting contest.
"Highlight this is a fun place to be," said Nathan Schwake, UK Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Licensing.
It was Schwake's idea to have a shooting contest. A student from the E-Rupption Zone and the UK mascot shoot layups, free throws, three-pointers and half-court heaves. Prizes have included T-shirts, posters, John Calipari autographs, tours of UK's locker room, on-campus dining, free textbooks and E-Rupption Zone tickets for a future game.
Former Lexington TV sportscaster Ryan Lemond serves as what Schwake called "our halftime game show host."
Lemond, whose enthusiasm suggests a Price is Right contestant (whose hair is on fire), shouts his way through the contest.
When asked about Lemond's bellowing, Schwake corrected. "Uses the appropriate inflection," he said with a smile.
Lemond quietly played a role in the one grand-prize winner so far.
Alexis Winston, a freshman from White Hall, Ark., is the only contestant to win all the prizes. Although she was an all-state high school player, she said she was nervous about shooting with 23,000 pairs of eyes watching. Lemond offered reassurance. "The worst that can happen is you miss a layup," she said he told her.
With the help of the UK mascot, who made the half-court shot, Winston won a T-shirt, a visor, two tickets to the North Carolina game, free Raising Cane's for a year and free textbooks for the spring semester.
The Cats not play at Vandy this season. That changes next season when UK, Tennessee and Florida will be Vandy's home-and-home foes.