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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | February 14, 2018

John Calipari talks program history, 2012 championship team

Kentucky is in the thick of a crowded SEC race, tied for sixth place on Feb. 14 with a 6-6 conference record along with Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Arkansas. With eight losses already this season and five of the Wildcats' remaining regular-season games against SEC opponents that are at least .500 in conference play, Kentucky's losses might reach double digits – something that hasn't happened since 2014.

Remember how Kentucky's season ended four years ago? The Wildcats lost in the national championship game as a No. 8 seed.

NCAA.com's Andy Katz traveled to Lexington recently, where he spoke with Kentucky coach John Calipari about the program's history, the Wildcats' 2012 championship team, and his office decor.

Calipari happy renting Rupp's seat

Kentucky's last national title was its eighth – the second-most only behind UCLA's 11.

"This place... you know, eight national titles," Calipari said. "I mean, eight! And five different coaches have won them here. So basically, if you want to win a national title, become the coach at Kentucky."

Calipari has had two teams at Kentucky finish the season with two or fewer losses, and both are memorialized with pictures in his office. He has a picture of former Kentucky great Anthony Davis, the centerpiece of the Wildcats' 2012 championship team, blocking a shot, and another picture of Kentucky's 2015 team that featured a platoon of nine players who averaged between 16 and 25 minutes per game. The '15 Cats were 38-1, their only loss coming to Wisconsin in the Final Four.

MARCH MADNESS SHOP

"That team sacrificed more than any team in the history of college basketball," Calipari said. "That would have been been the statement in the history of our sport if we could have won all 40 (games)... they (would have) won 40 because they were willing to play half a game so the other guys could play."

That Kentucky team came very close to winning the program's ninth national championship, but the reminder of the program's ultimate goal – another title – is ever-present in Lexington.

"This is that special place," Calipari said. "I want them to walk in here and understand this is why we play. To compete for this, to have a chance for this."

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