NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kentucky coach John Calipari revealed on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference this week that he called coaches Johnny Jones of LSU and Mark Fox of Georgia to compliment them on what they have done with their teams this season.
Jones said Wednesday before the start of the SEC tournament that he appreciated what Calipari did.
“As a matter of fact, if I’m not mistaken, I may have even shared, not necessarily the conversation, but that he had called and complimented the guys on the effort, the way they’ve played and really complimented them on where they were at this point. So meant a lot.”
Big Blue edge: Vanderbilt might be the hometown team, but the Commodores had trouble even finding the right locker room Wednesday for their pre-tourney practice. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings emphasized he didn’t think Vandy would be the team with the home edge during the tourney.
“I’ve got a feeling there’s going to be more people in blue even than in black and gold. I’ll still bet on more people in blue,” Stallings said. “We don’t — we wish this was a home-court advantage for us. We wish that it would be, and we hope that it is. We’ll see. I don’t know that it will be, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
“I think that the tournament was in New Orleans last year and there were about — we were talking about this as a staff today — there was about 19,000 Kentucky fans and about 500 from Vanderbilt (for the championship game Vandy won). I don’t think you get into a home-court advantage so much in a conference tournament, because again, aside from Kentucky, it’s not going to be overwhelming by any fan base in my opinion, ours included.
“So I think it will be like a neutral-court game for just about everyone, and I understand it’s here in Nashville and it would make sense to ask that question, but I don’t anticipate it being a tremendous home court advantage for us.”
And for Kentucky?
“You feel you’re playing them on a home court. You feel they’ve — a lot of times you feel it’s just Rupp Arena transferred to a different city. You have to admire the way their fans support and travel and do those things,” Stallings said.
“But even at that, the other team can still win, which fortunately we were able to prove last year, and so I don’t know. I don’t think you can make too much of a conference tournament venue in terms of who is it an advantage to? Last time I checked, Kentucky had won more conference tournaments than all the rest of us put together. So it’s probably the quality of your teams more than the number of your fans.”
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin is counting on seeing more than blue at Bridgestone Arena.
“We expect to see a lot of orange. Great area, great town. Also a good town to be part of some basketball. Lot of energy here. We expect to see a lot of orange,” Martin said.
Difference: Kentucky will play tonight’s Vanderbilt-Arkansas winner on Friday night. The Commodores and Razorbacks split two regular-season games, with each winning at home.
“Well, at their place they did a great job of getting us sped up, and we kind of had whole bunch of turnovers, and a lot them were in the half court, and we came back to our place we did a better job of taking care of the ball, and over that stretch between the games, we had started talking about competitive character and we started playing like the team we wanted to be,” Vanderbilt forward Kedren Johnson said.
“I pretty much say the same thing as Kedren,” Vanderbilt guard Rod Odom said. “We went and played them down there, they got us real sped up, kind of hit us in the mouth. They got us pretty good. We came back and just tried to be more composed with the ball and take care of the ball in the half court, and things went a little better for us.”