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Can you talk about the Kentucky backcourt and the challenge it presents?
"I think their whole team presents a great challenge. Rajon [Rondo], he's an amazing, amazing youngster. I think having a point guard averaging 10.8 rebounds a game is unbelievable and ... has so much speed. He gets the ball off the boards and it's a one-man fast break. I watched a little bit of the Iowa game last night, at one play he got the ball of the board and he dribbled past four Iowa defenders as they were trying to run back. [Patrick] Sparks is a fantastic shooter who's made some big-time, big-time shots for them and I think it's going to present a big-time challenge for us."
You guys are going on the road for the first time - what are you biggest concerns about that? "I think the crowd ... always I've said, does more to fire up your defense than it does anything else. We'll try to make sure that we maintain our poise when we're on the offensive end and hopefully their defense won't be so much quicker to the ball and be much more aggressive and everything else. But for me, I enjoy playing on the road. I think you can learn a great deal about your basketball team, and that's part of what you're doing. It's early in the season. We played on the road already down in Nassau, but it wasn't exactly a neutral or it wasn't a home court advantage for the other team. We had as just as many fans as they did. The travel itself -- getting on the bus, getting on the airplane -- that's not going to be the problem. The crowd in Rupp Arena is going to be the problem, and Kentucky's team."
What did you learn about your team against Illinois, in the end they really came back strong ...
"I think we've got a bright bunch of kids who really do care. I've always felt that I was fairly competitive and tried to make sure that our kids understand that regardless what happens, we're still going to be playing as hard as we can possibly play. I think these kids either have that already or have picked it up very quickly because I think they competed and kept doing that until the final play.
"We learned we can't turn the basketball over -- we had four straight opportunities down two and you don't get a shot or get a score. I think just maintaining our poise in front of a hostile crowd is going to be a big challenge for us. There were several times out there the other night where we had four freshmen out on the court by themselves at times. I think it's a big challenge, and it's something, again, we're looking forward to it."
What's Quentin Thomas' status for the game?
"I have no idea. Yesterday he did dummy offense and shot some."
The freshmen didn't seem to be in awe against Illinois, is it easier with freshmen these days?
"I think freshmen are more wordly, but it's also good when you've got 21,000 people in the right color of blue on your side. It remains to be seen if they'll hold their poise when we play in Rupp Arena or Cameron or any of those kind of places. But I do believe the kids are so much more wordly because of everything they are exposed to in high school with the summer basketball circuit."
Have you talked with Tubby Smith about extending the series with Kentucky?
"We're going to extend it ... we're going to extend the contract. I think we decided on [extending it] two years to start with and see."