LEXINGTON, Ky. - With a victory over Drexel tonight at Rupp Arena, third-ranked Kentucky would become the first team in NCAA men's basketball history to reach 2,000 wins.

The achievement may be lost on the current players - junior forward Patrick Patterson called it "no big deal" - but coach John Calipari understands the greater meaning.

"It's important to the commonwealth," he said.

"Kentucky is one of the top teams in the country and one of the most storied programs in college basketball," said Drexel coach Bruiser Flint, whose Dragons are 6-5. "Plus, one of my best friends coaches the team. It should be exciting for our guys to play a team like Kentucky."

Flint was an assistant to Calipari at Massachusetts.

Last week, Hall of Fame Bob Knight cited Calipari as an example of the profession's dwindling integrity. Knight expressed disapproval that Kentucky would hire a coach who had put two previous programs on probation.

"I know we didn't go on probation at UMass because I took over after he left," said Flint, who succeeded Calipari as coach there in 1996. "One of the things we talk about a lot is how people perceive him. As you'll find out, he's a lot different from what people write about him."

With Calipari and freshman star John Wall at the controls, Kentucky has racked up 11 wins without a loss.

Calipari is off to the best start ever by a first-year Kentucky coach - breaking Adolph Rupp's 10-0 start during his first season in 1930-31.

Don't expect the players - or even the fans - to get too caught up in the hoopla. Once the Wildcats surpass 2,000 wins, the attention will turn toward a much smaller number: eight. That's as in when will the Wildcats win their eighth NCAA title?

Kentucky won't be the only member of the 2,000-win club for long. North Carolina (1,992 wins) almost certainly will reach the plateau this year, while No. 1 Kansas (1,980) could join both with a run in the NCAA tournament.