BATON ROUGE, La. — After Kentucky won its 24th straight game to start the season Tuesday night, Coach John Calipari said that such a streak has a practical value.
"I think it's really important you get a 10-game winning streak sometime in the year ... ," he said before asking reporters, "Do you know why I think that?"
Calipari then answered his own question.
"Because at the end of the year, you've got to get six (in a row)," he said. "And you've got to know you can get 10. My teams, I was always trying to drive us to get a win streak.
"Ten is a good number," Calipari said before pausing like a trained comedian and then adding, "24 is better."
Kentucky improved to 24-0 (11-0 in the Southeastern Conference) by beating LSU 71-69 Tuesday night.
Calipari sounded content with the streak ending sometime before the post-season providing Kentucky learn from a defeat.
"Will we get dinged?" he said. "Maybe. When that happens, we'll deal with it."
In explaining why he did not call a timeout during LSU's second-half rally, Calipari said, "I want them to know I'm not worried about losing. It's not going to change me, us, nothing.
"This is about us getting better."
After missing the last three games because of an undisclosed illness, Trey Lyles played. He scored four points, grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot in a busy 18 minutes.
Lyles gave UK "a little deeper rotation," Calipari said, and the chance "to get back to playing the way we need."
Calipari said he was plesantly surprised by how Lyles contributed.
"For the first time out, I was stunned," the UK coach said before adding, "He got tired. They went at him."
Calipari credited UK's defense for the victory.
"We stopped them five straight times," he said. LSU did not score in the final 3:53.
"We're a defensive team," Calipari said. "That's what we are."
Work to do
LSU's 40 points in the paint were the most an opponent has scored against UK this season. Only four previous opponents had scored 30 points in the paint, including Florida's 32 on Saturday.
"Offensive rebounds," Calipari said. "Beat us to balls. ... The last three games, people have scored on us.
"We have some work to do. We really do."
As with the game at Florida, Kentucky prevailed in the face of a rabid crowd at LSU.
"That's what you sign up for when you come here," Willie Cauley-Stein said. "They tell you that when they're in your in-home (recruiting) visit. Sellout every night. Gold-out. White-out. Black-out. T-shirts. ...
"It's good for us."
On Monday, LSU Coach Johnny Jones acknowledged how a victory over No. 1 Kentucky could significantly improve his team's chances for the program's first NCAA Tournament bid since 2009.
Choosing his words carefully, Jones said beating Kentucky this season "carries a long way for your postseason opportunities."
Among SEC schools, only four programs have been out of the NCAA Tournament as long as LSU. Mississippi State last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2009.
Programs that have waited even longer are Arkansas (2008), Auburn (2003) and South Carolina (1998).
Jones saluted Kentucky as a worthy No. 1 team. "You have to go and play your way (to No. 1)," he said. "Kentucky's done that."
LSU enjoyed the fifth sellout crowd since re-configurating its Pete Maravich Assembly Center prior to the 2005-06 season. The announced crowd of 13,997 was a record for the arena when its capacity is listed as 13,215.
The four other instances when LSU announced sellout crowds were:
■ 13,839 for a game against Xavier on Jan. 24, 2009.
■ 13,468 for a game against Georgia on Jan. 25, 2006.
■ 13,345 for a game against Florida on Feb. 24, 2009.
■ 13,249 for a game against Vanderbilt on March 4, 2009.