LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari remembered every minute of it.
It was just last season that his Wildcats walked into Thompson-Boling Arena and got squashed by the same Volunteer team that they had just defeated, 74-66, moments earlier.
"They beat our brains in (last year)," the Kentucky head coach said.
The fifth-year head coach was quick to point out, however, that this was Tennessee-Kentucky, one of the most storied rivalries in the SEC, and with that came some history between the two programs.
"But I can remember in the tournament a few years ago when we beat their brains in by 50," Calipari continued. "That's how this stuff is. This was a close game. We've played them in close games, they've beat us bad, we've beat them bad. They are Tennessee, they are a really good team."
That Vols' 88-58 victory on wasn't an easy one for the Wildcats to swallow, but the veteran members of this UK squad put it on themselves to ensure that everybody was ready to exact some revenge, including the newcomers who got their first – and maybe their last – taste of this rivalry.
"Yeah, I mean the players from last year like Alex (Poythress) and Willie (Cauley-Stein) told us that they were going to try and outmuscle us and that they were going to talk trash to us and stuff like that," freshman guard Andrew Harrison said, "but they are a great team. They hit us in the mouth early, but we responded well."
The reason that response was needed, Calipari stated, was due to the coaching job done by Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin, as well as some other factors.
"Cuonzo's done a great job," Calipari said. "They defend, they rebound, they run their stuff, they get baskets close to the rim.
"And they got a player who can get his own."
That player that Coach Cal was so enamored with was none other than Jordan McRae.
One play in particular caught the eye of the coach who has been to four Final Four's.
As the shot clock was winding down below five seconds, the All-SEC guard dribbled toward the baseline, stepped back, faded away and nailed the shot over a Big Blue defender.
"The play that McRae made down the left side where he just stepped back and we had two arms on him and he swished it easily," Calipari said, "I looked at my staff and I said 'oh my, I hope he doesn't get that going,' because there is no defense for that."
Unfortunately, Saturday's matchup marks the last time that the Vols are scheduled to play Kentucky this season – even though they could still face them in the SEC tournament – due to the decision by the conference to do away with the divisions within the SEC upon it's expansion.
This means that this will be the first time since the 1952-53 season that Tennessee won't host the Wildcats in Knoxville.
"I would love to play them, it's just unfortunate," Martin said about not being able to play Kentucky at home. "Hopefully, as a league we can figure something out so we can play Kentucky every year... We won't get a chance again unless we see them in SEC tournament play so it's unfortunate for our guys and our fans, but it's part of it."
As for Calipari, he's not as upset that the Wildcats won't get the opportunity to face the Vols for a second time this season.
"Tennessee is not going to lose many in our league," Calipari said. "I'm just happy we don't have to see them again until tournament time, possibly, and I hope we don't see them there either."