Kentucky and Indiana started playing regularly in the 1970 season and between that game and the one in 1999, there were 19 contests that were decided by five or fewer points.
But since then, only once has the margin been five or fewer (a 59-54 UK win in 2006) and only twice has the margin been under 14 points. In the last four years, the average margin of victory (three wins for the Cats, one for the Hooisers) has been just over 18 points per game.
With both teams going into tomorrow's matchup undefeated, most believe there's a better chance of one of those good ol' UK-IU barnburners.
My broadcast partner, Mike Pratt, was a senior when this series became an annual deal in December, 1969 so he knows well the rich history of this rivalry. But current players only know how the Indiana program has struggled in the wake of the Kelvin Sampson fiasco.
"Youngsters nowadays, it's a three or four-year window and (during that time), Indiana has not been very good. But you have a responsibility as a number one-ranked team to come to play every game. Fear no one, respect everyone--if you take that approach, you'll be fine," said Pratt.
Indiana's best win to this point is a road victory over NC State but the 8-0 start has the Hooiser Nation dreaming of a return to the glory days. Calipari knows that the Hooisers will look at this game as a chance to make a "statement" to the nation and Pratt says the UK players better not to expect to say the same ol' Indiana.
"I've watched them a couple of times and I'm really impressed. His (Tom Crean's )young players have really matured and this kid, (Cody) Zeller, is going to be a terrific player," Pratt observed. "He (Zeller) has tremendous upside. He's more athletic (than his brother, Tyler, at North Carolina). He seems to find himself on the perimeter more than his brother. He'll set that high pick-and-roll, he'll pick-and-pop (back for the jumper). He's very agile. And he runs the floor like his brother."
Pratt anticipates a "tempo game," with Indiana trying to keep the game in the 60's while Kentucky will be looking to score in the 80's. And he says it'll be important for Kentucky's defense to clamp down early, because a flurry of early three's would "ignite that crowd."
Each season, Calipari invites his longtime friend and noted sports psychologist Bob Rotella to visit with the team. That happened last week, prior to the matchup with St. John's.
"One of the things Bob does better than anybody is create a picture of what you want to be and then (you) go chase it. (He) told them you have to do it for each other, be selfless. Just do the mundane things well and you become unbeatable," Calipari explained in his pregame interview on the UK radio network.
"He said 'you're all stars but do you want to be champions?' I think that got their attention," Calipari added. "The only thing you have to worry about is the day-to-day grind of getting better."
That reminds of a great line that former Kentucky football Hal Mumme had about "the monotony of greatness." He asked me to imagine how many times the Eagles had to play Hotel California so that it sounded great the one time I heard it in a concert. Athletes, too, have to work on the same drills and skills day after day in practice so that they can become great.
Doron Lamb is on pace to set a career record for three-point accuracy at Kentucky. He's presenting hitting three's at a 49 percent clip. Cameron Mills, super sub for the 1998 national championship team, set the standard at 47 percent for his four-year career.