After a more-difficult-than-expected victory over the Boston Celtics last weekend, the high-flying Golden State Warriors spoke of how a team can become almost bored with winning.
Might the same apply to Kentucky, which takes a 19-0 record to Missouri on Thursday night?
"I've never heard of that," freshman Devin Booker said Tuesday. "I don't think we'd get bored of winning. I don't think any of us want to lose."
As the Warriors explained it, a team does not necessarily want to lose. The routine of winning game after game — the Warriors had a 36-6 record going into Tuesday night — can numb whatever area of the mind that ignites competitive instincts.
"We have the challenge of not getting bored with winning," Steph Curry said after the 114-111 victory over Boston. "It sounds weird, but you have to stick with the program and know that every night is not going to be pretty. We have to bring the energy ourselves. ...
"We have to stick to who we are and not get complacent with winning."
That sounded a lot like the Cats' mantra this season: Stick with who they are (a defense-oriented team) and play to their own standard in addition to an opponent.
"We just have to play against ourselves again," Booker said of facing a Missouri team UK routed by 49 points two weeks earlier. "That's been like the topic of the season."
Booker insisted that another frequent topic — a historic 40-0 record — is not an incentive to continue playing well.
"We know that'd be unbelievable to do ... ," he said before adding, "It's not in our mindset: we have to go undefeated. If anything, we feel like we have to win a championship more than we have to go undefeated.
"If we lose a game here or there, I just hope we finish out in March."
UK Coach John Calipari has been saying much the same thing as Kentucky won game after game. Eight times the Cats have inflicted the opposing coach's most lopsided defeat since he arrived at his respective school. That includes the 86-37 romp on Jan. 13 against Missouri, whose first-year coach is Kim Anderson.
Calipari sounded wary. He noted that freshman Montaque Gill-Caesar, one of Mizzou's two players with a double-digit scoring average, did not play in Rupp Arena.
"That last score does not matter," he said. "Whether you won or lost has no bearing on the game you're about to play."
That said, Calipari suggested Missouri might have more of an incentive to win on Thursday.
"The last game helps them a lot more than it helps us," he said. "... I'm just focused on us getting better. That's all it is."
Calipari defined the standard Kentucky tries to meet as "Just energy. Our whole thing is if we play with energy, we have a chance."
When asked about an undefeated record of 40-0 as a motivational tool, Calipari said, "It's not what I want. It's what they want."
The UK coach talked about areas he'd like to see improvement:
■ Sustained energy throughout a game.
■ Have fun as opponents play with the zeal that goes with trying to beat the nation's No. 1 team.
■ Limit unforced turnovers.
Calipari also mused about a future decision of whether to reduce the player rotation to seven or eight for the NCAA Tournament. He said if he had his "druthers," he would continue to play nine or 10 players.
A question about whether he'd welcome a loss led Calipari to turn Zen master. It depends, grasshopper.
Calipari recalled how his Memphis team won its first 26 games of the 2007-08 season. Then the Tigers lost to rival Tennessee in a game featuring No. 1 (Memphis) versus No. 2 (Tennessee).
Tennessee won 66-62.
"Was that lucky for us or unlucky for us?" Calipari said. "It all depends on how you deal with it."
Memphis did not lose again until the national championship game, beating UCLA (Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook) on semifinal Saturday.
Calipari also noted UK's loss at Indiana in early December of 2011. The Cats only lost one more game en route to a national championship.
When asked if he preferred a defeat sometime before the NCAA Tournament, Calipari said, "It doesn't matter. It all depends on how we deal with it."
Kentucky seems something beyond temporal winning or losing.
"Just energy," Calipari said. "Our whole thing is if we play with energy, we have a chance. ... My thing is fresh minds and fresh legs."