Kentucky, winner of four straight after a beatdown of Tennessee on Thursday night, is ready to do something special with its season.
Coach John Calipari is surprised.
“I did not think they were ready to say, ‘Let’s go do this,'” he said. “Then I sat back and I watched and I’m like, ‘They are. They’re ready.'”
It’s a psychological thing.
“If I don’t have a team empowered, and it’s us (coaches), and we’re dragging ’em, it’s hard to advance,” Calipari said. “(If) your team’s empowered and they want to keep going and they’re having a ball playing. They’re holding each other accountable. I don’t have to do it. They’re doing it more than I am. That’s the way you want it.”
Unsurprisingly, Calipari gave much of the credit to sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis, who has been the unquestioned leader during an otherwise inconsistent year.
While Ulis struggled from the field on Thursday (3-for-15), he dished out nine assists and helped facilitate an offensive onslaught from Jamal Murray and Derek Willis (53 combined points).
“They’re feeding off Tyler’s confidence,” Calipari said. “He is helping all of those guys be confident. I know there’s some really good players out there in this country, but he’s gotta be in the equation for Player of the Year.”
Kentucky travels to the Lone Star State this weekend for a Saturday date with Texas A&M (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).