LEXINGTON, Ky. – Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes buttered up Kentucky’s John Calipari so much Wednesday, the latter might as well have been a biscuit.Barnes, whose sixth-ranked Longhorns (7-0) will visit Calipari’s top-ranked Wildcats (7-0) on Friday night, lavished praise upon UK’s big whistle like few opposing coaches ever have. During a 20-minute conference call with reporters, Barnes dedicated about 1,700 words to the greatness of his “dear friend.”“John has done just an incredible job to get those guys to totally buy into the team concept,” Barnes said of Calipari, who is using a two-platoon system to manage a lineup loaded with 10 NBA-caliber players. “The job of a coach is to take the players that you have and find the best possible system that you can put them in (to) put them in the best position. I think he has done a great job throughout his career of doing that, and I think what he’s done with this team is what he’s always done.Q&A: Texas’ Barnes raves about UK’s CalipariUK: No Sports Illustrated jinx for Anthony Davis“I’m really just impressed with the way, more than anything, he’s got those guys to buy into what he sees. He’s always had a great vision for the way he sees his teams (should) play.”Barnes met Calipari, if his memory serves, in the summer of 1978 at a basketball camp at the University of Pittsburgh. They were both in their early 20s, camp counselors coaching teams of grade-school children. Barnes’ best player was a little guy named Sean Miller, who is now the coach at Arizona.Calipari and Barnes became fast friends, and the relationship has lasted for decades, even as they’ve competed for top prospects on the recruiting trail – most recently for five-star Texas freshman Myles Turner.I can tell you I respect John as much as anybody that I’ve ever met in the coaching businessTexas coach Rick Barnes“I can tell you I respect John as much as anybody that I’ve ever met in the coaching business,” Barnes said. “If I had a personal problem of any nature – if I needed some help with helping someone else or anything – I know if I called John Calipari, he would say to me, ‘What do you need? Don’t say another word. Just tell me what you need.’ Because I’ve watched him in situations with mutual friends where he’s done some incredible things.”Barnes said Calipari has “always been underrated as a coach” as people dismiss his accomplishments because of the stockpiles of talent he rounds up on the recruiting trail.“I don’t think people realize it’s not as easy as you think when you do have talent, and it’s certainly not as easy as you think when you’ve got a (target) on your back every night and you’ve got bullets coming at you,” Barnes said. “I just think he’s one of the great coaches … and I don’t think he’s ever truly gotten the kind of credit he deserves for the coach that he is.UK: Cross Miami’s Coley off Kentucky’s list for OCRELATED: Kentuckians’ favorite word: Duh, ‘basketball’“I’m not just talking about the psychological part. I’m talking as an X-and-O guy. He’s very much underrated.”Barnes knows that not everyone in college basketball shares his sentimentality for Calipari, but he views them as almost kindred spirits. He calls Calipari “a fighter,” and Barnes has been there. When he was coaching Clemson in the early 1990s and everyone viewed that program as an ACC afterthought, Barnes was willing to do whatever it took to “change that persona.”That included a controversial confrontation with legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith during a 1995 ACC Tournament game, which led to a near-brawl between the two teams. Barnes understands making an unpopular move to get people talking about his program.“If that meant taking on City Hall, you gotta take on City Hall,” Barnes said. “And I think John Calipari throughout his career has been willing to take on City Hall, because I think he believes in what he believes in and he’s right and he’s going to stand up for it, whether it’s his players or what his philosophy is. And when that happens, you’re going to get judged real quickly.”The two old renegades, though, have never turned on each other – not even when they cross paths in the living room of a top prospect.FOOTBALL: Despite swoon, UK’s Stoops on Year 2: “We did grow”UK: UK’s Towns named SEC Freshman of the Week“Every time John Calipari has walked into a house prior to us coming in, and we go in, people always ask me, ‘Are you and he close?’ And I say, ‘Why?’ They say, ‘Well, if you didn’t know better, you’d think he was recruiting for you,’ ” Barnes said. “And I respect that, that he has always said good things about me.”Consider the favor returned after Wednesday’s love fest for Calipari. When a reporter joked with Barnes about showering Kentucky’s coach with so many platitudes, Barnes laughed.“He doesn’t realize it: I’m getting ready to ask him for a big favor,” he said. “I’m actually using you guys to get to him. I’m trying to soften him up right here.”The Cats have beaten all six opponents this season by at least 19 points, including Texas’ Big 12 brother Kansas by 32, so maybe the coming request is for mercy. Kyle Tucker can be reached at (502) 582-4361. Follow him on Twitter @KyleTucker_CJ.