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Kentucky head coach John Calipari warns team to not think they have an easy road to the Final Four

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Kentucky head coach John Calipari warns team to not think they have an easy road to the Final Four

ATLANTA — Kentucky coach John Calipari is warning his players “don’t drink that poison” by reading and watching comments about the team’s path to the Final Four.

“The poison being we have an easy road,” Calipari said. “If they drink the poison, we’ll be done on Thursday.”

Calipari isn’t buying the notion that No. 5 Kentucky, which is the highest seed in the South Region, has the easiest path of any team in the Sweet 16. No. 1 Virginia and No. 4 Arizona were both knocked out of the first round of the tournament.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Kentucky entered the Round of 64 with a 2 percent chance to make the Final Four. After No. 2 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 7 Nevada on Sunday, it increased to 49 percent.

If anything, Calipari said the narrative of Kentucky being a sure thing to advance is being used to influence his team “probably because they’re young and they know they don’t know better.”

His advice: “Don’t read it, don’t watch it.”

Calipari’s comments were similar to those from Alabama coach Nick Saban last October when he told reporters following a win over Texas A&M, “I’m trying to get our players to listen to me instead of listening to you guys. All that stuff you write about how good we are. All that stuff they hear on ESPN. It’s like poison. It’s like taking poison — like rat poison.”

“It’s a one-game thing, just play your best,” Calipari said of the tournament. “If you think, ‘We’ve got this, it’s easy,’ you’ll be done. … This thing is unpredictable.”

Kentucky plays No. 9 Kansas State on Thursday in Atlanta.

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