NASHVILLE — One of Kentucky's "Unforgettables" saluted Kentucky's 31-0 regular-season record as worthy of an enduring place in a proud program's storied history.
Whatever happens at the Southeastern Conference Tournament or thereafter in the NCAA Tournament pales next to what Kentucky has already achieved, John Pelphrey said Thursday.
"That carries a lot more weight with me as a coach and player," said Pelphrey, a Florida assistant coach and, of course, a member of UK's "Unforgettables."
Fortunes can rise and fall dramatically given the capricious nature of the NCAA Tournament, he said. A turned ankle. An unfavorable call. A bad matchup. A poor shooting game.
"Everything changes so much," Pelphrey said. "But when you do something from the start of the season to the end of the season, that's perseverance. That's resilience. That's handling success. Success can make you feel you're better than you are, and not want to go back to practice."
Pelphrey is in position to compare teams on long winning streaks. Last season, Florida won 30 straight games, which was the SEC single-season record until Kentucky won all 31 going into an SEC Tournament quarterfinal game against Florida on Friday.
Pelphrey suggested there was a different dynamic involved with Florida last season and Kentucky this season.
"We really overachieved," he said of the Gators, who became the first team to post an 18-0 regular-season SEC record last season.
"That was as good as we could play."
Kentucky, which matched Florida's 18-0 record, is different.
"The scary thing for Kentucky is they haven't hit their peak yet," Pelphrey said. "There is another level for those guys."
When asked what made him think Kentucky can still get better, Pelphrey smiled and said in an almost incredulous voice, "Well, I think, one, Cal's history says that. Just his history at Kentucky says that."Pelphrey noted how John Calipari guided UK teams in 2011 and 2014 to NCAA Tournament runs after only fair (by UK standards) regular seasons.
Pelphrey downplayed the assumption that a Florida-Kentucky game produced conflicting emotions.
"My job really hurts my relationship with my alma mater," he quipped. Then he added, "I guess there will come a time I'll have a chance to enjoy that relationship more than I get to. ...
"It's not just another game, but it's not what most people might think. I think all of us are very, very competitive. When you get in a game, it's not really about the other team. It's about how we play. How we handle each other. Do we stick together?"
Pelphrey said this isn't the first time he's been on the side trying to beat Kentucky. Longtime stints as a Florida assistant sandwiched his time as the head coach at Arkansas.
"It's not what people might think," he said, "or what it was in the beginning."
The attendance for the first session — announced as 10,039 — was the best for the SEC Tournament since the league expanded to 14 teams in 2012.
In the previous two SEC Tournaments, the first-session attendance was announced as 7,879 in Nashville in 2013 and 7,132 in Atlanta in 2014.
Go Big Brrr
Upon entering the Bridgestone Arena court, Calipari's first words were, "Boy, it's cold."
Bridgestone Arena is home to the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League. The court sits over the ice.
Kentucky played over similar conditions on Senior Day last weekend. The court was on top of the ice put in for Disney on Ice performances in Rupp Arena, which began Thursday.
One press row wag saluted Calipari for using Disney on Ice as part of preparation for the SEC Tournament. He thinks of everything.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Bridgestone Arena was noticeably chillier than Rupp Arena last weekend.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray declared Friday "Blue-White Day" in recognition of the UK team and season.
Gray encouraged fans to wear UK colors.
■ In news from the cutting edge, Trey Lyles sported a new haircut during UK's shootaround Thursday morning.
■ Brad Nessler, Sean Farnham and sideline reporter Shannon Spake will call the UK game for the SEC Network.