"They were up 20-4 on Florida and got beat," said Calipari. "They have played well and done some really good stuff. We expect it to be a tough battle. You are talking about a team that is very, very physical. Mississippi is playing well."
Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said earlier this week he "tried not to get too far ahead" when looking at opponents, but he noticed how impressive UK is when he was watching the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game tape to prepare for the Commodores.
"I saw the tail end of the (Kentucky-Vandy) game live Saturday," Kennedy said. "I think they are scary good. When you look for holes that maybe you can exploit, they don't have many.
"They are tremendous defensively. They play as a cohesive unit, which is really a tribute to Cal because mixing in freshmen with upperclassmen and doing it at that level is not easy. As impressive as they are individually, they are even better as a team and that's a credit to Cal and his staff."
While some other SEC coaches have complained about having to play Kentucky on a Saturday after a Thursday game when the Wildcats have had more preparation time, Kennedy did not complain.
"I am not going to think about Kentucky until we are done with this first challenge (against Vanderbilt), but I?understand the dynamics of television and what has helped SEC basketball moving forward and I don't think more of it than that. Our guys are not very fond of practice any way. From a preparation standpoint, give me a month leading into Rupp Arena and I am not sure how much that would help."
However, Florida coach Billy Donovan says the Rebels have "strength and athleticism" teams must neutralize.
Murphy Holloway averages 10.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game and Reginald Buckner adds 7.1 points and 8.4 rebounds. Buckner also has 56 blocked s hots.
"What Buckner and Holloway do on the glass is impressive," Donovan said. "They have length at the basket and shot blocking with Buckner. They defend and guard well."
What Mississippi doesn't always do is shoot well. The Rebels are hitting only 42.9 percent from the field and just 29.6 from 3-point range. Leading scorer Terrance Henry (11.6 points) is a 45.5 percent shooter and Holloway hits 54.4 percent and Buckner 55.8. But Nick Williams (10.1 points) is a 40.8 percent shooter and Jarvis Summers (10.0 points) is only a 38.4 percent shooter.
"I wouldn't say we are any better (than a month ago). We are kind of who we are," Kennedy said. "I think our team continues to compete. I think our team continues to try and win the effort areas. We have to be good on the glass and make timely shots and value the ball. Most every game we have competed and put ourselves in position where if we make plays we have a chance. That's not going to change. We are who we are and you are not going to see that change."