LOUISVILLE — Multiple ESPN analysts had been saying if Kentucky beat Louisville on Saturday, the Cats would be undefeated going into the NCAA Tournament.
"They picked the Germans in World War II, too," UK Coach John Calipari quipped.
Calipari, who earlier this season stressed how he must keep the Cats "engaged," suggested Kentucky has plenty of improvements to make before beginning the Southeastern Conference schedule that ESPN analysts blithely dismissed.
"I've got nine days to get my team right," Calipari said.
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The UK coach said he wanted to install a new zone defense, a new "rotating press" and changes on offense.
"And I really want to give Dom (Dominique Hawkins) and Derek (Willis) an opportunity to see if they fit into that 10-man rotation," Calipari said. "Either one.
"But they have to elevate their games to do that, because I am not taking minutes away from these nine when all nine deserve minutes."
Kentucky begins SEC play against Mississippi on Jan. 6. Calipari suggested Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia can join UK as NCAA Tournament teams.
"Our league is fine," he said. "I still think we'll get five teams in."
Karl-Anthony Towns noted how UK players saw the movie Unbroken, which tells the story of how World War II veteran Louis Zamperini survived his plane being shot down, 47 days on a life raft and then a Japanese prison camp.
"If you can take it, you can make it," Towns said.
Toe to toe
When asked about UK getting the figurative punch in the face that Calipari said it needed, Towns said, "I didn't just get punched. I think you could have called some hooks and some haymakers. Good thing I was watching (Mike) Tyson last night."
Calipari had likened Louisville to Texas.
"That was a lot more physical than the Texas game," he said. "And I didn't think that was possible."
Arrogance vs. swagger
Calipari said he wanted his team to have swagger, but not arrogance.
"Arrogance isn't earned," he said. "Arrogance is 'I wear a Kentucky uniform. Don't you know who I am?'
"Swagger is you work so hard. Spend extra time. Demonstrated performance. And you trust your teammates."
'Still my point guard'
When asked why Andrew Harrison struggled (1-for-6 shooting and six turnovers), Calipari said, "They are not machines. They are not computers.
"I told him that I loved him, and I had his back and that he is still my point guard. 'Stop being down on yourself.'"
Calipari noted the scrutiny that comes with playing for Kentucky.
"It's not fair being at Kentucky and what comes with it," he said. "And how the expectations are. Then everything you do is analyzed, and it is not fair.
"It's also not fair when the season ends and you are in the green room with half the team. That's not fair either."
UK-U of L
Towns on whether his first UK-U of L game lived up to expectations: "Yeah, it had everything. It had the love and the hate. Everything you expect you see on TV. It's the real deal."
Louisville made six and then nine baskets in the first and second halves, respectively. UK has given up less than 10 baskets in 20 of 26 halves played this season.
U of L's four players averaging double-digit points — Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear and Chris Jones — made 14 of 51 shots.
Calipari acknowledged being surprised by how well Kentucky has played defensively.
"I didn't know Karl would block shots like he did and does," the UK coach said. "I didn't know Trey Lyles could play the three position defensively like he has. He's guarding guards and doing good."
Calipari said he also wondered if Devin Booker (high school scorer) and Tyler Ulis (5-foot-9) would be good defenders.
As with some earlier teams that lost to Kentucky, Louisville didn't mind the idea of a rematch.
"Definitely," Rozier said. "At the end of the game, we could beat them. We just came up short. We didn't hit shots, and that's going to happen. But live for another day. Play the next game and go from there."
■ The two teams combined for 12 assists and 27 turnovers.
■ The announced attendance of 22,812 was the third-largest crowd for a U of L game in the KFC Yum Center. The two larger crowds are 22,815 for a game against Notre Dame on March 9, 2013, and 22,814 for a game against Syracuse on Jan. 19, 2013.