Nov. 14—Kentucky coach John Calipari isn't sure what might happen when the No. 17 Wildcats get their first look at a very good college basketball team Tuesday night.
UK will meet No. 1 Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic at the United Center in Chicago.
"They're a veteran team, older players and we've got young guys," Calipari said on Monday. "We have no idea how they will respond. I'm hoping they respond. Sometimes, they're so young, they don't know and they just go play well. I don't know what to expect."
Calipari wants Kentucky to be relaxed and not get overwhelmed by the moment, which will be a big-time national television matchup.
"Go play loose and free and have fun and let's see who we are right now," Calipari said. "This is our third game. This is literally a brand new team. We've shown signs of really good and we've shown signs of 'oh my gosh, we have to be better than this', which is typical."
Kentucky and Kansas are the two winningest teams in college basketball history.
Tipoff at the United Center will be 8:30 p.m. CT.
UK will go against Kansas without its three bigs. Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Onyenso are not cleared physically. Big 'Z' is still awaiting NCAA clearance. Zvonimir Ivisic has practiced six or seven days since he's been at Kentucky.
Calipari said Adou Thiero should be available for the Kansas game. Thiero left the New Mexico State win (86-46 last Monday) with what Calipari called at the time a headache.
"In this game if we didn't have Adou it would be really hard," Calipari said.
Calipari has been impressed with UK's speed, and it's ability to play fast and not have too many turnovers.
"I'm really surprised with how fast we are as a team and can get out and go," Calipari said.
Reed Sheppard's play early this season has been about pushing tempo and creating offensive chances with his defense.
Calipari said he may play D.J. Wagner off the ball when in the game at the same time as Sheppard.
"The way Reed is playing, when he and Reed are in there together, I may run DJ up the court and let him play ahead of the team, cause Reed will find you," Calipari said. "If (DJ) is ahead and it's 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 he's a handful."
Antonio Reeves leads Kentucky in scoring with 16 points per game.
Freshman Rob Dillingham is posting 14.5 points a game, while classmate Justin Edwards has averaged 14 points through two games. Tre Mitchell (13.5 ppg) and Wagner (12 ppg) round out the five Cats currently averaging double figures.
Kansas has gotten its season off to a good start, winning both of its early games with ease. The Jayhawks topped North Carolina Central 99-56 in their first game, then beat Manhattan 99-61.
Kansas has been led by center Hunter Dickinson. The Michigan transfer leads Kansas with a 19 points per game average through two contests. Kevin McCullar Jr. is close behind at 18.5 points per game, while KJ Adams has averaged 13 points through two games.
"Kansas is the number one team in the country and should be," Calipari said. "They're not going to beat themselves, they play hard, they're very aggressive, they'll play fast when they can."