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“If we go out there and use our physicality and our toughness at every position” the Cardinals will be fine, Smith said. “We have to dominate the backboards. If we dominate the backboards we’ll do great.”

Smith pointed to another reason why things should be a little more sane this time: The absence of some of the players who were in the middle of the action last year.

Cousins received a technical foul and was perhaps fortunate not to have been ejected after throwing an elbow at Swopshire while the two battled for a loose ball in the first half. Cousins missed Swopshire’s head by inches.

“I don’t want to call anybody any names, but it’s just different players, different guys,” he said. “We have a pretty tough team and nobody’s going to back down from anybody.”

Calipari expects the Cardinals to test the mettle of his freshmen-laden roster again.

Forward Terrence Jones admits he knew nothing about the rivalry with Louisville before he arrived on campus. As of Tuesday he said he held no animosity toward the Cardinals. His coach doesn’t expect it to take long for his talented, if sometimes inconsistent, star to quickly learn this game is a little different than some of the others the Wildcats play.

“The ones that don’t understand, they’ll feel it,” Calipari said. “A shot upside your head, a trip or a grab. You’ll feel it.”

Harrellson, like Jones, held no ill-will toward Louisville when he came to Kentucky two years ago. He didn’t understand where all the anger came from. He does now.

“Everyone was telling me, ‘Kill Louisville, we hate them,’” he said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know why you guys hate them so much because I didn’t really hate them.’ Now it’s worn off on me so now I really dislike them, especially from last year’s game. You just dislike them now.”

Calipari’s message to Harrellson, Jones and the rest of the Wildcats is simple: Play through it. You get hit, keep going.

“You’ve just got to be strong with the ball,” he said. “You’ve got to know, they’re playing (hard), this is not for funsies.”

And while both sides pledge to mind their manners, the players insist they’ll be ready if things take a turn.

“We’re not going to get in the fighting or anything like that, but if they start talking junk, we’re going to talk junk back,” said Kentucky guard Doron Lamb.

It should make for great theater, during which the coaches hope to fit in a little basketball.

“This game should be one of those vicious, clean, everybody’s just playing hard and playing to win,” Calipari said. “When it’s over, everyone that leaves the arena or leaves their television says, ‘that’s basketball. I enjoyed watching that, that was the funnest game I’ve seen all year.’”