If anyone believes there isn't a difference in how Kentucky and the Ivy League approach basketball, consider:
■ Brandon Sherrod, a 6-foot-6 wing for Yale, chose to take this season off in order to sing with the school's famous male a cappella group known as — not making this up — the Whiffenpoofs.
■ Another Yale player, Matt Townsend, missed two recent games because he was in New York interviewing for a Rhodes Scholarship. He became one of 32 U.S. students to earn one.
Even for the Ivy League, Columbia Coach Kyle Smith found that a bit much.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
"C'mon Yale!" Smith said with a chuckle.
Then Smith, who will coach Columbia against Kentucky on Wednesday night, quipped, "I don't want to hear about Kentucky losing guys to the NBA. We're losing guys to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley."
Columbia does not have an only-in-the-Ivy League story to top the Whiffenpoofs, the nation's oldest collegiate a capella group (Cole Porter was a member). But all-conference forward and 1,000-point scorer Alex Rosenberg had to drop out of school when he broke a foot in preseason practice.
Ivy League rules do not allow graduate students to play. So Rosenberg, a senior, dropped out with the intention of re-enrolling and playing again next school year.
Smith said he likes to refer to his players as "future leaders of the free world." He also thinks of them as quality basketball players.
Columbia brings a 5-2 record into Rupp Arena. The two losses came by a total of three points. The Lions beat Bucknell 62-39 Saturday.
"I think we are pretty good," Smith said. "We had a chance to win all seven games."
UK assistant coach Barry "Slice" Rohrssen, who substituted for John Calipari at Tuesday's news conference, described Columbia as a "ball-control team." The Lions "will test your patience defensively with their style of play," he said.
Columbia averaged 59 points in its first seven games. Opponents have scored, on average, 50 points and made only 37 percent of their shots (23.9 percent from three-point range).
"People are telling us we should slow it down against Kentucky," Smith said. "No problem."
Great, greater, greatest
UK's defense figures to continue causing opposition coaches to reach for a thesaurus to find alternative ways of saying super-duper.
Smith passed the test. After noting that not many NBA teams can match Kentucky's depth of shot-blockers, the Columbia coach said, "It's like a couple Anthony Davises around the basket at all times. It really is."
Columbia will have a bit more size to throw at Kentucky now that Luke Petrasek, a 6-10 sophomore, has been cleared to play. The Lions start 6-11 senior Cory Osetkowski at center.
Smith suggested Columbia must walk "a fine line" against UK's size.
"You can't be terrified," he said. "But you have to exercise caution. You kind of have to be perfect."
Pick a number
Rohrssen noted how Kentucky has had eight different players lead the team in scoring through the season's first nine games.
"What other program or team in the country has had eight different players lead (in scoring)?" he said.
UK's leading scorers, in order, have been Andrew Harrison (Grand Canyon), Tyler Ulis and Trey Lyles (Buffalo), Dakari Johnson (Kansas), Aaron Harrison (Boston), Devin Booker (Montana State), Booker (UT Arlington), Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein (Providence), Cauley-Stein (Texas) and Towns (Eastern Kentucky).
Five different UK players have led or tied for the lead in assists. Point guards Andrew Harrison (five times) and Ulis (four) have had the most assists most often.
The Columbia coach said he first met Calipari at a coaches' retreat in Los Angeles in the late 1990s. Smith was Calipari's driver.
Smith, then an assistant at the University of San Diego, asked Calipari for advice on becoming a head coach.
"Let me tell you, jobs are not easy to get," Calipari said, as Smith recalled. "In a great job, you have a chance to win the league every year. A good job is the one you can get."
Smith said that Columbia was his 12th interview for a head coaching job. "I feel I have a good job," he said.
Ivy League teams have a 4-4 record in the last five NCAA tournaments. ... UK has a 14-3 record against Ivy League teams. The Cats won the only previous game against Columbia: 76-53 in the 1948 NCAA Tournament. ... Tom Hart and Sean Farnham will call the game for ESPN2.