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UK-Baylor notes: Cats stop and smell the (Final Four) roses

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UK defeated Baylor 82-70 on Sunday to advance to the schools second Final Four in as many seasons. (Chet White, UK Athletics) UK defeated Baylor 82-70 on Sunday to advance to the schools second Final Four in as many seasons. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Eric Lindsey contributed to this story

ATLANTA -- If you listened only to the questions asked of John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats after they defeated Baylor to advance to the Final Four, you would hardly have know they had played a game on Sunday afternoon.

"What is the State of Kentucky going to be like with UK and Louisville facing off?"

"How will last season's Final Four loss help you this time around?"

"Coach Cal, what's your relationship with Rick Pitino?"

Media and fans are already looking forward so much to what comes next that Darius Miller got a question about what it's like not to even have a day to savor the win that carried the Cats to a second straight Final Four.

Miller, though, didn't agree with the notion. Once the players and coaches were done with their postgame responsibilities, it was right back to celebration mode, at least for a while.

"We do get a day," Miller said. "We're definitely not worried about that right now. This feels good and we're all taking it in, especially the younger guys. We could care less at this point about who we play. When we start preparation, that's when we'll focus in on what we need to do."

Miller's sentiment was reflected in Calipari's comments to the team after the win.

"What I want you to do is relax and enjoy what you just did," Calipari told the team in the locker room, as captured by UK Sports Video. "Guys, we just put this team together six months ago and you're going to a Final Four. Thirty-six wins is the most wins ever at a program that's 100 years old and won all these national titles."

Before UK or U of L had even advanced past the Elite Eight, the hypothetical rematch between the two rivals was already being billed as the biggest game in the history of the Bluegrass. Calipari was asked about the rivalry (multiple times) in his postgame press conference and had his usual positive things to say about the program located under 70 miles down I-64, but he's not buying into the buildup for the game that's sure to consume the Commonwealth over the next six days.

"We're playing a basketball game," Calipari said. "Believe me, we will not change. The drama of the game will be on the staff, but I don't have many Kentucky players on my team. I'll tell them, 'Get off the message boards, don't worry about the Twitter and the Facebook. Don't buy into it.' "

Undoubtedly, the Cats don't want their season to end with a Final Four celebration, but their approach to pursuing the school's eighth national championship will be the same as their approach to this entire tournament: one game at a time.

"We got more business to take care of, but we're not playing a tournament," Calipari said. "We're going down there and we got to play a game. We're going down to New Orleans to play a basketball game. That's all we're doing."

Anatomy of a run

Following an 8-0 Baylor spurt, UK trailed 10-5 with 16:17 to go before halftime. The Bears seemed every bit the athletic, talented threat to the Wildcats that they had been billed to be. Coach Cal called a 30-second timeout to rally his troops.

UK rallied, and then some.

Sixteen unanswered points later, the Wildcats had their first double-digit advantage, and they would lead by at least eight the rest of the way.

"I believe I subbed one guy (Miller for Doron Lamb, and I just told them, 'We got to step on the gas here, guys,' " Calipari said. "I didn't want them to build much confidence."

It would have been hard for any UK opponent to have confidence after the blitz the Wildcats unleashed. Rather than breaking the run down with the written word and making you pick through a bunch of paragraphs to get a picture of its nuts and bolts, let's jump straight into the pertinent numbers:

  • Time elapsed: 3:40
  • 16 points scored by five different players led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's six
  • Five assists dished out on seven baskets
  • 11 fast-break points and eight points in the paint
  • Terrence Jones' line: zero points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block
  • Zero Baylor points on 0-for-5 shooting
  • Three forced turnovers on three steals
Barnhart: Final Fours are precious

It took Kentucky nine years to get Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart to the Final Four. Now that his basketball team is making its second straight trip to the national semifinals, Barnhart is taking nothing for granted.

"I've been here 10 years and we've been to five Elite Eights," Barnhart said. "It's so hard to get to the Final Four. That's why last year was extremely special. You begin to realize how precious those opportunities are. You can't take them for granted. They put great teams in front of you every week. The difference in players and their talent levels is shrinking."

As the man in charge of Kentucky's athletic department, he'll feel the tension of the Kentucky-Louisville game as much as anyone. Echoing the sentiments of Coach Cal, Barnhart downplayed the significance of the two rivals facing one another in the Final Four.

"You play who they put in front of you, and Louisville's who they put in front of us," Barnhart said. "The purpose is still the same. That doesn't change your purpose. The purpose is still to win a national championship. That was the purpose when we started, and that hasn't changed."

UK best team Drew's seen

Baylor head coach Scott Drew knows what a national championship team looks like. After all, it was his team that lost to eventual national champion Duke in this very same round two years ago.

But Drew, who has two potential NBA lottery picks on his squad and has played the likes of Missouri and Kansas this season, doesn't know if he's ever seen a team as talented as this Kentucky group.

"This team's better than I thought," Drew said. "We haven't played a better team than them all year, and I don't know in the last couple of years. When we lost to Duke, Duke was a very good team, but this Kentucky team is better, in my opinion."

Davis sets SEC blocks record

One game after helping Kentucky set the NCAA single-season blocked shots record, Anthony Davis took another bite - or should we say swat? - out of history against Baylor.

Needing just two blocks to set the new Southeastern Conference single-blocked shots record, Davis swatted six shots on Sunday to break Jarvis Varnado's old record of 170. Davis, who played through most of the second half with a knee contusion, has 175 blocks on the season.

Kentucky's NCAA record is 326 blocks and counting.

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