Calipari: Our goals haven't changed

After falling three games behind Florida in the SEC standings, adding another conference championship banner to the collection is all but an afterthought for UK. But John Calipari is convinced the Cats can still accomplish their bigger goals.

After falling three games behind Florida in the SEC standings, adding another conference championship banner to the collection is all but an afterthought for Kentucky.

But UK coach John Calipari says an SEC title wasn't high on his to-do list for 2014, and if anything, Saturday's 69-59 loss to the Gators convinced him that the Wildcats still might be able to accomplish their bigger goals.

"Our goals haven't changed," Calipari said Monday during the SEC coaches teleconference. "I'm happy with my team. What that game showed me, we're as good as anybody in the county. We can play with anybody. Now let's shore this up, let's get this chemistry together and this energy together, let's create a little more will to win down the stretch, execute."

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Florida (23-2, 12-0 SEC) moved up to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 on Monday. Although a win over the Gators eluded his team, Calipari said "for 30 minutes, that's as good as we've played all year."

He conceded that catching Florida in the SEC race is highly unlikely with only six regular season games remaining, but reiterated that he wants the Cats focused on the bigger picture.

"I've never been big on conference championships or conference tournaments," Calipari said. "Every game we play is to prepare us for March, and that's how we approach it. I think the history of my teams have done well in conference play and conference tournaments because they're not the goal. The goal is to be at our best in March."

No. 18 Kentucky (19-6, 9-3 SEC) travels to Ole Miss (16-8, 7-4) on Tuesday and plays host to LSU (15-8, 6-5) at Rupp Arena on Saturday.

"Two teams that have given us problems," Calipari said. "Mississippi at home was anybody's ballgame with six minutes to go in the game, and obviously LSU had us down double digits most of the game, almost got it to 20, so they'll be two tough games for us."

The Cats beat Ole Miss 80-64 on February 4 at Rupp Arena, but the game was much closer for most of the night than the final score indicated.

"We got a couple of breakouts and made a shot, and all the sudden it was 12. Then we got going a little bit. But that was late, late in the game," Calipari said."

Any matchup with the Rebels means you must prepare for gun-slinging guard Marshall Henderson. UK held him to 16 points in the first matchup on 6-for-18 shooting from the field.

Jeff Drummond has covered University of Kentucky sports for newspapers, magazines and online publications since 1988 and for FOX Sports since 2012. A Richmond, Ky., native, he currently resides in Lexington.

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