VAUGHT: Tubby prefers first game Thursday

Tubby Smith could have complained about Kentucky's placement and schedule in the NCAA Tournament. But that's not Tubby's style.

Tubby Smith could have complained about Kentucky's placement and schedule in the NCAA Tournament. But that's not Tubby's style.

There's no doubt UK would rather have played in Nashville where the Big Blue fans would have turned the normal-sized arena in to a Big Blue lovefest. Instead, UK was put in the RCA Dome in Indianapolis where fans are so far from the court that they don't have nearly as big an impact.

Smith also could have complained about how it was unfair for his team to come off a grueling three-game stretch in the SEC Tournament and then have to turn around and play one of the first games in the NCAA Tournament Thursday instead of getting to play Friday and rest another day.

"I would rather play Thursday to be honest," Smith said today.

What? Wouldn't the rest help?

"I think if you play the first day out you do not get distracted by all the other (NCAA Tournament) games. Kids end up playing the game in their heads. I like playing the first time out of the box," Smith said.

Still, Alabama coach Mark Gottfried warned that it is hard to play in the SEC tourney final and then play again four days later.

"It's a hard thing to do. You've just played Friday, Saturday and Sunday and now you turn around and get ready to play Thursday and Saturday again," Gottfried said. "You get emotionally tired. If you made the championship game, you spent a lot of energy. You need some type of day off to get your body recuperated and get ready for the next game. It's not easy."

Smith did admit he would rather not play Eastern and go against coach Travis Ford, a former UK player.

"We would prefer to cheer for them. I am sure our fans would love to cheer for Eastern Kentucky as well. I guess selection committee saw this as good opportunity (to pair Kentucky and Eastern)," Smith said. "That is part of the allure and hype and entertainment of this tournament. We do play then. We've played them maybe three or four times since I've been here.

"It's not like we don't play. In college ball today, you play about everybody if you can get them on the schedule. But I feel like our fans feel as we do that you hate to play against friends and peers you have so much respect for."


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