By Jeff Goodman
LEXINGTON, Ky. - John Calipari delivered the message - over and over - about North Carolina's experience while Terrence Jones kept a stone-face while attempting to convey that this was just another game. Senior Darius Miller said all the correct things.
He told the truth. No filter. No BS.
"I think we're more talented offensively and defensively," Lamb said less than 24 hours before top-ranked Kentucky welcomes North Carolina to Rupp Arena.
And what about the two backcourts, Doron? How do you think they stack up against one another?
"I think we're way more talented," he said.
I wonder if Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland will get a look-see at those comments when they arrive in Lexington.
Unlike Jones and even Miller to an extent - who both downplayed the significance of this game - Lamb spoke the truth. To be honest, it's refreshing.
"It's a big game for us," Lamb said. "We want to try and keep our No. 1 spot."
This was supposed to be a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. UNLV ruined that when the Running Rebels pulled the upset over North Carolina a week or so ago in Vegas. Now the Tar Heels enter the contest at No. 5 in the country, but the numbers don't matter.
"You want games like this because they help you learn about your team," Calipari said.
Calipari is all about spin, but that's not spin.
No one is really going to care about who won this game if these two teams meet again in April 2 in New Orleans -- as many anticipate to be the case. Both teams will likely be No. 1 seeds entering the NCAA tournament come March and these two clubs will have a different look to them in four months time.
This game is about figuring out your team's deficiencies and trying to correct - or at least - soften them. For North Carolina, it'll be whether they are able to defend and match Kentucky's toughness - among other things. For Kentucky, it'll be whether Marquis Teague can play with poise - and whether Terrence Jones truly is a different player from a year ago -- also among other things.
Calipari and Roy Williams won't commit to continuing this series, using their league slate and other non-conference matchups as an excuse to halt the matchup. So this could be it for a while - so we need to enjoy it.
"The moment I saw it on the schedule, I started looking forward to this game," Lamb said. "Everybody's been talking about it."
Lamb and just about every diehard college hoops fan. You've got no shortage of potential lottery picks -- Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for Kentucky and Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller with North Carolina - in addition to plenty of others with NBA futures. It'll take place in arguably the most electric environment in college basketball: Rupp Arena.
It won't be a methodical affair as was the case in the previous game for both teams, when North Carolina had to grind one out against Wisconsin and Kentucky was forced to watch St. John's milk the clock in an effort to stay in the game.
Williams and Calipari have athletes - and they let them go.
This should be terrific.
Any predictions, Doron?
"We win," he said with a smile. "And leave the arena by 3 p.m.. -- and then I enjoy my day off Sunday."