John Calipari is happy where his third Kentucky team current sits: 23-1 overall, 9-0 in SEC play and ranked No. 1 nationally.
But he said Monday the 'Cats aren't anywhere near where they need to be in March. And he planned to meet with his team Monday afternoon to remind them where they are and how they got there going into tonight's game against Florida (19-4, 7-1).
The Gators are ranked No. 8 in this week's AP poll and are tied for No. 7 with Murray State in the USA Today voting.
"I'm going to talk to them today a little bit about making sure we're being humble guys, understanding why we've been winning and where we have to take this," Calipari said. "The issue that we have is that we're one of the youngest teams in country, if not the youngest, and I imagine as a ranked team we are the youngest. Three freshmen start, one comes off the bench, two sophomores start, Darius Miller is a senior but we're really young so there's an easy transition from a swagger to arrogance and that's where you get beat.
"Look, we're a good team. We're not a great team but we're a good team. What we'd like to be by the end of the year is as good as our team was last year as a team. I didn't talk talent, speed, size, I'm talking as a basketball team. Last year's team at the end of the year was as good as there was in the country and that's what we're trying to do with this team."
Kentucky reached the Final Four last season. But this is an entirely different club led by freshman center Anthony Davis, averaging 13.9 points, 10.1 rebounds with 116 blocks in 24 games. He was named the SEC player of the week on Monday.
"Certainly he is very, very long. He alters the game," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He's a different dimension at the basket for your team. ... You've got to make wise choices because certainly when he blocks shots it ignites them on the fast break."
Davis leads the nation in blocks and has more than eight other schools in the SEC.
"A guy like that, they come along once in a lifetime," said Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said.
Of being No. 1, Davis says: "We really don't talk about it at all. We go in each game like it's another game. Go in and play hard for the whole 40 minutes and just try to get wins."
Terrence Jones (12.5, 6.4) has improved markedly in recent games, Donovan said, to make the Wildcats even stronger.
"I think Jones, the last four games, has really raised his game which has brought a new element to their team," he said.
Calipari and UK have to deal with Florida's 3-point shooting. The Gators have made 10 or more 3-pointers in 16 games this season, the most in Donovan's 16 seasons in Gainesville.
"They do a lot of pick and rolls to try to get big people to help so that they can throw it in there, but the other side of it is with (forward Erik) Murphy now they spread the floor out," Calipari said. "A year ago, you could kind of predict that the four or five was going to be close to the rim and you've got a chance to guard them in the post.
"Right now with Murphy (UF's power forward) being able to shoot the three the way he does it makes it even more difficult to try to zone your big guys and that's why it makes them even harder to guard."
Murphy is 12th in the SEC in 3-pointers made per game. Overall, UF leads the nation in 3-point goals per game (10.5).
"That's a big part of their game," Jones said. "And if they make a lot of them it'll be a tough game for us."
Bradley Beal could be the X-factor for UF. Named the SEC freshman of the week on Monday, he's bounced back strong from some struggles in early January.
"He's a skilled player who can beat you on the bounce. He can make shots, a terrific free throw shooter, good passer, but also his ability to rebound offensively," Calipari said. "So he goes and gets balls. Let's just say you stopped them and you are feeling good and all of a sudden he goes and grabs an offensive rebound and sticks it in and it kind of breaks your rhythm and your stride. So he is doing some good stuff."
The Gators have won in Lexington just three times in Donovan's first 15 years as the UF head coach. Six of the last eight meetings have been decided by single digits. Florida is 2-0 in games against the top-ranked team in the nation during Donovan's tenure, beating Duke in 2000 and Ohio State in 2007 in NCAA Tournament play.
"Whether they are ranked No. 1, No. 5, No. 25, you are still dealing with their personnel. They have great personnel," Donovan said.
Gator players are taking the approach that it's just another league game, and forgetting about rankings.
"We don't really view it as playing the No. 1 team. It's just Kentucky," Beal said. "It's a league game so we're just coming in with the mentality we're just going to play our game and focus in on what we need to do, not on that they are the No. 1 team and we're trying to beat the No. 1 team. We're just trying to win a game."
Adds guard Kenny Boynton: "I think a win (tonight) would get us a lot of respect but at the end of the day they are just another SEC team, like a Tennessee or South Carolina. I think if we go out and play like we've been playing lately we've got a great chance at winning."
Downplay it as Florida may try, however, this game could mean everything in the league standings. A UF win gives both clubs a loss with the second meeting in Gainesville in early March quite possibly for the SEC crown and a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed. A UK win creates a big cushion between the 'Cats and the rest of the conference.
It's a matchup of the league's two hottest teams. Kentucky has won 15 straight, Florida has won seven in a row.
The Gators, however, are just 2-4 so far this season in true road games played on the other team's campus. Another issue could be where Patric Young is going. The former McDonald's All-American started the season well but has struggled since an ankle injury a few weeks ago to regain form. Donovan thinks part of it has been his ability to fight through fatigue.
"I made the comment a couple of weeks ago when people talked about his foot, I said I was more concerned about his conditioning," Donovan said.
Donovan calls Kentucky "the measuring stick" for other SEC teams. Right now, every other team in the nation is being judged beside the Wildcats.
Who can beat them? Nobody has beaten UK at home in the last 48 games. Florida is coming off two wins in six days against teams who were ranked in the AP top 25.