I know you don't like Kevin Stallings.
If you're a Kentucky fan you think the Vanderbilt basketball coach is too much the whiner and you've never forgiven him for saying a couple of years back about UK's lack of Thursday-Saturday conference games was an unfair advantage.
Ah, but the man can coach.
John Calipari's top-ranked Wildcats beat Stallings' Commodores 65-57 Tuesday night at Rupp Arena, and just because the final margin was far below the 22-point spread there will be the notion that the home team played poorly. Don't buy it.
"This was a good win for us," Calipari said.
It was exactly that because Vanderbilt made it that. Fresh off a discouraging loss at Mississippi State — one in which the Bulldogs snapped a 16-game conference losing streak in regular-season games — Stallings brought his young team into a hostile environment as heavy underdogs and it played its 'Dores off.
"John can't come out here and talk about his team being young," said Stallings afterward with a sly grin. "My team is younger. I think they're 346 in the country (in terms of experience) and we're 348."
Vandy, a team that entered Tuesday night with a 1-3 SEC record, started three freshmen and two sophomores. Stallings' backcourt was a pair of freshmen guards in Riley LaChance and Wade Baldwin IV, with another set of freshman guards in Shelton Mitchell and Matthew Fisher-Davis in reserve.
There are Kentucky freshmen and then there are just about everybody else's freshmen. And on paper, Vanderbilt looked like the kind of road team that gets drilled by a tall, ultra-talented, historically good defensive team like Kentucky.
"John has a really good team," Stallings said. "He is very, very underrated as a coach, especially as a defensive coach. Their defense is terrific."
And yet the blowout never happened because Vanderbilt wouldn't let it happen.
Kentucky jumped to a 7-0 lead early thanks in part, said Stallings, to his guys running the wrong way on called plays. Vanderbilt fought back with four straight points.
When Kentucky stretched the lead to 21-13 with 6:11 in the first half, Vanderbilt reached down and pulled to within 25-21 at the 3:53 mark. It was 33-26 UK at the half.
When UK pushed the lead to 39-30 in the second half and you thought this was about the time the No. 1 team in the nation would pull away, Vanderbilt fought back to get it to 47-43 when LaChance buried a three-pointer with 9:44 remaining.
It was pretty much like that the rest of the way or at least until Aaron Harrison had his way. The UK sophomore took over down the stretch, scoring seven points in the final 3:17. His three-pointer with 2:07 left was a dagger out of the left corner, putting Kentucky up 61-54.
"That kind of broke us," Stallings said.
The Cats were not their normal dominant selves on the offensive boards, finishing with 10 offensive rebounds compared to 21 defensive boards for the 'Dores.
But Kentucky didn't play poorly — far from it. They shot an even 50 percent from the field in the first half. They took just six three-pointers for the game but made four. They forced 16 Vanderbilt turnovers. They blocked 11 shots.
Sometimes, you just have to give the other team credit. And the other coach.
"Any time you make a mistake against them, they make shots," Calipari said. "Let me say this, I told Kevin, I've watched a bunch of their tape and the job he's done with that young team is phenomenal."
"We did some good things, just didn't do quite enough," Stallings said. "There's really no consolation in doing some good things, but we came here to do enough to win and didn't."
He also said this: "I was OK with how my team played."
Calipari seemed OK with the way his team played. "This was a good game for us," he said.
On this night, give both teams credit.