Category Archives: UK Basketball

Wildcats Top Gators During Revenge Tour


Brendon D. Miller, Midwest News and Sports – February 7, 2015

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Kentucky passed its stiffest test to date tonight with a 68 – 61 win in an intense and raucous Stephen O’Connell Center here in Gainesville, on Saturday Night.  Sure the CATS were favored to win tonight, but being on the road on the SEC makes betting lines and what should happen a goal but not a certainty.

Cats take Floridas best shot and still prevail - Photo by Brendon Miller
Cats take Floridas best shot and still prevail – Photo by Brendon Miller

The CATS toughed this game out as the Gators certainly brought it in a venue and atmosphere the likes of which the CATS will not have to face the rest of the year.  The game began just as Billy Donovan wanted, as the crowd and the “Rowdy Reptiles” give the Gators max intensity, Michael Frazier and Dorian Finney-Smith hit back to back threes for a 6 – 2 start and 8 – 5 lead at the first media timeout.  This was a familiar script for the upper classmen as it must have brought up thoughts of the three losses that Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dominique Hawkins, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee, suffered at the hands of the Gators last year.  Aaron Harrison in the post-game presser said the returning Wildcats had “took it personal” (the losses) and it was motivation for them in this game, and they needed it during this battle that felt like a heavy weight title fight.  Ten first half Kentucky turnovers, the Gators shooting 44% from the field, and two personals on each Aaron and Andrew Harrison led to a 30 – 28 Gator lead at the half.  Only four Wildcats scored in the half with Karl-Anthony Towns leading the way with 11, Devin Booker having 8, Aaron Harrison 5, and Cauley-Stein 4 points.

The second half began with the CATS tying the score on a layup by Booker, but the largest lead the rest of the way by either team outside the final minute would be five points.  The game changer was WCS’s monster slam over Devin Robinson at the 12:09 mark.  The score was 44 – 42 Gators at that time, and the And 1 make by WCS put the Cats up 45 – 44.  It was a SportsCenter Top 10 candidate, and the CATS would never trail again the rest of the way.  Aaron Harrison poured in 18 in the second half hitting two big threes and leading the CATS with 23 points on the night.  Cal has been saying all year, that when the game is on the line, Aaron is the go to guy, and when the CATS needed a bucket tonight, Aaron was the man, with several crowd-taming daggers that stopped the Gators momentum each time.  Towns said post-game, “Not many teams in the country have a player like Aaron Harrison.  Luckily, we have the only one.”  Towns put up All-American numbers with 19 points, on 6 for 10 shooting, with 8 boards, 3 assists and 2 blocks.  Two other CATS were in double figures with WCS having 13 and 5 boards, and Booker with 12 and 4 boards.  Tyler Ulis was the steadying influence at the point putting in 33 minutes with 5 assists and only 2 turnovers against the withering pressure put on by the Gators.

Seth Davis tweeted that this was the most impressive win of the season for the CATS, and I agree.  Deficiencies in the past games were remedied.  The CATS have had problems closing games, but not tonight, shutting the door by going 16 for 17 in the second half from the line and 21 for 22 for the game.  Many times with Cal teams, free throw shooting has been an issue, but it was the nail in the Gator coffin tonight.  Rebounding has also been an issue in the last month or so, and the CATS won the battle on the glass 33 to 20 overall, and on the offensive boards 11 to 6.  Motivation will continue to be an issue as the CATS go forward.  Hopefully LSU, Arkansas, and Georgia have done something these CATS will “take personal” if this is the kind of performance that results.  On we go BBN!!

Game notes by UK Athletics:

Kentucky Postgame Notes – No. 1/1 Kentucky vs. Florida – O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Fla.

Feb. 7, 2015 – Attendance: 12,578 – FINAL SCORE: No. 1/1 Kentucky 68, Florida 61

Team Records and Series Notes

  • With the win, Kentucky is 23-0, 10-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida dropped to 12-11, 5-5 SEC.
  • Kentucky owns a 95-37 all-time record against Florida, including a 34-24 edge in Gainesville, Fla.
  • Kentucky improved to 4-2 under head coach John Calipari in when ESPN’s College GameDay is on hand.
  • Kentucky will return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 10 with tipoff slated for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.


Team Notes

  • The only undefeated team remaining in the nation, Kentucky is the all-time wins leader in college basketball with 2,163.
  • With 23 consecutive wins to open the year, tied the 1965-66 Wildcats for the second-best start in program history.
    • Kentucky is off to the best start under coach John Calipari.
    • UK is two wins shy of equaling the best start in school annals.
  • UK’s 23-game winning streak is the tied with the 1952 Wildcats for the eighth-longest streak in Kentucky history.
    • UK’s 23-game winning streak is tied for the fifth-longest streak in single-season history.
  • UK has won 45 of its last 47 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
  • Calipari has a 175-37 record at Kentucky and a 620-177 overall on-court record in his career.
    • Calipari has an 89-9 all-time record when coaching the nation’s No. 1 team, including a 48-4 mark at Kentucky.
  • Kentucky has a league-leading 932-262 all-time record in SEC play.
  • Kentucky was 21 of 22 from the free-throw line, which was a season-best 95.5-percent clip.
  • Florida shot 24 of 49 (.490) from the field, which was the second highest shooting percentage by a UK opponent this year (Ole Miss – .492) and the best by a UK opponent playing on its home floor.
  • The Wildcats took an early 2-0 lead on a Willie Cauley-Stein jumper with 18:46 remaining in the first half, and did not lead again until taking a 33-32 lead on a Karl-Anthony Towns bucket with 18:21 remaining in the second half.
  • After taking a 45-44 lead on a Willie Cauley-Stein dunk with 12:01 to go in the game, Kentucky never trailed again.
  • Kentucky finished the game on a 9-2 run.
  • Just five Wildcats scored in the game, with four of them (Towns, Cauley-Stein, Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker) each scoring in double figures.
  • Kentucky extended its streak of games with a 3-pointer to 923 consecutive games, the second longest streak in the nation.
  • Kentucky finished with four steals as a team, which was a season low.
  • Kentucky out-rebounded Florida 33-20, and Florida’s 20 rebounds was the fewest total by a UK opponent this year.


Individual Notes

  • Sophomore guard Aaron Harrison scored 23 points, with 18 of them coming in the second half.
    • Harrison’s 23 points were the second-highest single-game total by a Wildcat this season, trailing only his 26 vs. Ole Miss on Jan. 6.
    • He was a perfect 8 of 8 from the free-throw line, which was the best total by a Wildcat who shot 100 percent from the line in a game this season.
    • Harrison shot 3 of 6 from 3-point range, marking the fifth time this season he has made three or more shots from the perimeter.
  • Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, and added 19 points, tying his career high.
    • He led UK in rebounds for the second game in a row.
    • Towns’ two blocks were also a game high, and marked the second-straight game he has led UK in blocks.
    • He dished three assists, one away from his career high.
  • Junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein scored 13 points, and was 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
    • Cauley-Stein shot 100-percent from line in a single game for the first time in his career when attempting three or more free throws.
  • Freshman guard Devin Booker scored 12 points.
    • He has scored in double figures in four of the last five road games.


And then there was one. U.K is 21 and OH so good

Kentucky_AlabamaWith Duke’s comeback win over Virginia, coupled with U.K.’s dominating win over Alabama, the Wildcats are now the only undefeated team in the Nation. They should be unanimous #1 in all polls Monday.

The following quotes are from UK Athletics:

Alabama at Kentucky, Men’s Basketball – Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., Jan. 31, 2015

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 70, Alabama 55

  • Kentucky is 21-0, 8-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 13-8, 3-5 in league play.
  • Kentucky leads the series 105-37, including 55-10 at home.
  • With 21 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the third-best start in program history.
  • Kentucky is now the lone undefeated team in the nation following Virginia’s setback tonight to Duke.
  • Kentucky is 198-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 43 of the last 45 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
  • Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has an 87-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 46-4 at UK.
  • Calipari is now 173-37 (.824) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.
  • Kentucky was behind for only 20 seconds tonight.  UK has trailed for only 103:43 of a possible 855 minutes this season.
  • Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at home against Georgia. Game time is 7 p.m. EST and it will be televised on ESPNU.

Team Notes

  • Sparked by inside players, Kentucky shot a season-best 58.5 percent from the field. UK’s bigs (Towns, Cauley-Stein, Lee, Johnson) combined to make 13-of-16 for 81.3 percent.
  • UK made 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) on 3-point shots tonight. Over the last 11 games, Kentucky has shot 44 percent on 3-pointers, 77-of-175.
  • Kentucky had only five turnovers tonight, just one away from the season low of four miscues.
  • Kentucky had balanced scoring tonight with four players in double figures and eight players scoring at least five points.
  • UK is 105-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 17-0 this season.
  • UK is 54-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 16 times this season.
  • Kentucky’s streak of 921 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended early in the contest when Aaron Harrison hit a long ball from the left corner at the 17:47 mark of the first half.

First-Half Facts

  • Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Dominique Hawkins, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the sixth time this season.
  • Alabama scored on the game’s opening possession but Kentucky responded with the next seven points and the Wildcats never trailed again.
  • UK led by as many as 17 points at 37-20 and took a 37-24 lead into halftime.

Second-Half Story

  • Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson.
  • The lead stayed between 12 and 21 points during the second half.

Player Notes

  • Karl-Anthony Towns had a perfect shooting night, making all four field goal attempts and all four foul shots for a total of 12 points. All of his points came in the first half.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein tallied 12 points, making all four of his field-goal attempts.
  • Devin Booker had 11 points, including three of four 3-pointers. He’s now made 25 of his last 38 long shots, 65.8 percent.
  • Aaron Harrison chipped in 10 points, the 10th time in the last 12 games he has tallied in double figures.
  • Marcus Lee led the Wildcats in rebounding with five boards and also scored eight points, most for him since scoring eight vs. North Carolina on Dec. 13.

Tyler Ulis contributed a game-high four assists and scored six points.





            Q: On Willie Cauley-Stein:


COACH CALIPARI:  I told them, I don’t know what you’re saying to yourself at halftime, but you better change.  He was so good, he looked like the best big man in the country in the first half.  That’s what I think he could do.  The only issue is he had no rebounds.

So, if he had clipped off three or four five rebounds with that kind of half, it would have been like, wow.

Comes out the second half, the very first play, he gets screened, he falls asleep, fouls on a rebound.

But he’s a young kid.  That’s the stuff he does.  That shows you how good he could be.  I like the fact that we went at Willie and went at him a little bit and made him do some things offensively.  I thought he did good.


  1. After struggling at his dad’s alma mater and missing his first couple tonight, were you glad to see (Devin) Booker sort of get back in the groove and is that what you’ve come to expect from him the way he shot the ball?

COACH CALIPARI:  I thought he played good.  I got upset that we threw a ball to him in the corner and he didn’t have a shot, instead of driving it, he just passed it.

I said if you’re going to play that way, I’ll take you out.  With Trey Lyles being out, this was a good win.  I look at it, you look at the stats, we shoot 50-some percent, had five turnovers, and there was, we were just a little bit off.  Now think about what I’m saying.  Like I wasn’t ‑‑ there was things that happened out there that ‑‑ I may be wanting these guys to be perfect on every possession, but you know what?  I just think we have to keep that standard high of what we’ll accept and what we’re not accepting.

Dakari (Johnson) early in the game.  Sorry.  Then in the second half I thought Dakari played.

I thought Marcus Lee was good the whole game.  Couple one-handed rebounds.

We’re reverting, doing some things that are just absolute sins in this program.  One-handed rebounds, for us, is a sin.  That is a sin.  There’s no reason for it.  They know that.  And it’s something I don’t accept.

But again, it was a good league win and now we have two days to get ready for Georgia.  We’ll have a film day tomorrow and practice on Monday and get ready for them on Tuesday.


  1. Obviously with Trey (Lyles) out there were some minutes available, didn’t see Derek (Willis), is he still sort of not gotten back to where you want him to be?

COACH CALIPARI:  He’s going to have his opportunities and when he has them ‑‑ I just, I look at it and I tell you that Aaron (Harrison) and Andrew (Harrison) and even Devin (Booker) and these guys they deserve ‑‑ now Aaron played 32 minutes, I didn’t know I played him that many minutes, I was hoping those guys got around 28 and the others did.  Andrew got 28.  He probably got a couple of Devin’s minutes.

But again I haven’t subbed this way this year, so it’s hard to keep track of who is in and who is out.  But I liked Tyler (Ulis) and Andrew together.  I thought that was good.  But we’re now a different team without Trey.  So we change again.


  1. You only trailed by 20 seconds in the entire game today, your team was just seemed highly proficient in the first five minutes.  What did you see out of them in the first five?

COACH CALIPARI:  We’re an efficient team.  That’s how we play.  We’re ‑‑ we’re not ‑‑ the issue has been for us is our post play.  Today our post play was good, which is why we shot over 50 percent.  Because now it opens up everything else.

You either got to double team or you got to dig, you got to do something or the guy’s going to score.  That’s what Karl (-Anthony Towns) and Dakari and Willie should be able to do.  Even in a physical game they should be able to do that.  We’re trying to get them to be confident and we did some stuff with Karl that I think helped him, but that second half is just like, come on now.  No way.  This should have been a 25 and eight night for him, it really should have.  He had 12 in the first half, that’s what he ended with.


  1. Do you expect Trey to play on Tuesday and what in particular?

COACH CALIPARI:  Don’t know.


  1. What did you like about Willie (Cauley-Stein)?

COACH CALIPARI:  Don’t know if he’ll play on Tuesday or not.  He’s pretty sick.  So, but Willie, we’re telling Willie, don’t settle for just being a defensive player.  4‑of-6 from the line, I wish he was 5-of‑6, but 4-of‑6 is pretty good for him.  But he scored around the goal.  He’s got that jump hook, he’s long, he’s active, he’s big, just jump over people and score.  Even when they’re pushing on you, want it.  Relish that.  That’s what I want.  Push me.

But again, good win without Trey, I thought our defense in the first half was really good, then we fouled and gave up a layup late.  Instead of being 17, 18, it’s 13, and they got a chance and that’s the one thing this team’s not doing, putting people away when they get that opportunity.


  1. Apologies to everybody for a non‑game question, but rule changes.  I know Seth (Greenburg) asked you about it and you said you wanted more practices August, is there anything else, shot clock, anything else that you would do?

COACH CALIPARI:  Shot clock would be fine if they put it at 30.  It would have no affect on me.  But I think that college basketball should own August and do things in August.  There’s nothing going on.  So let’s own it.  Let’s, let us do it.  Whether it be play exhibition games, whether it be practice, whether ‑‑ you want to go on a foreign trip and they want to televise it, so what?  Do what they did with us last year.  It was pretty good our games out‑rated the USA basketball games most of the time.  As least the first couple.  So people want to watch college basketball.  Do it in August.


  1. What about refs?  Would you do anything different with the way the refs are set up right now?

COACH CALIPARI:  When you have a good team you don’t have to worry about refs.  When your team’s not good, you really worry about refs.  Say put a fourth out there.  Somebody said four times zero is zero.  Six times zero is zero.


  1. Is it surprising to you when you say post play has been our issue?

COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah.  Because it’s been rough.  We have to get Dakari, you got to make some and ones, you can’t miss all those and expect to go to the foul line and then miss free throws.  You just can’t.  We can’t throw you the ball.

He’s gotten better.  He’s got to figure out ways, am I not shooting it quick enough, do I need to make a quicker play, am I trying to bully and I can’t even bully a guy that’s my size or smaller, I’m not getting it to the rim.

But we’re getting better at it, but today was great because Willie and Karl, we threw them the ball, they went 8-of-8.  Well if you are bigs go 8-of‑8 you’re going to shoot over 50 percent.


  1. John, Karl lost Kessens on a cut in the second half, did he turn his head or what happened?

COACH CALIPARI:  He stood straight up and down.  You’re standing straight up and down you’re just standing there and all of a sudden you get screened you’re like, oh my, it’s ‑‑ by that time the guy’s shooting a layup.  And by that time, Dakari was back in the game.


  1. The last undefeated team now in the NCAA, I know you said that doesn’t matter to you.

COACH CALIPARI:  I think South Carolina (Women’s Team) is undefeated and Princeton (Women’s Team) is undefeated, so there’s some other teams.  I think our rifle team is undefeated.  Did they?

Like I said, this team, the question is, how good can we be.  And I don’t know yet.  I’m trying to get guys to go to that next level.  I’m prodding and pushing and screaming and yelling, go, because I really do want to see how good can we really be.

You’re not going to be great every night out, if you play 30 games in a season, 31, four or five of them are going to be really high level.  Four or five of them are going to be so bad you just hope the other team stinks too.  And then the rest of them are all going to be within a range of four or five percent.  That’s the season.

I’m trying to get us to just come out one time ‑‑ and we have had a couple now, we had the Kansas game, that was a romp, I mean that was from start ‑‑ UCLA ‑‑ start to finish, we have had a few of them.  But we have also had the Columbia’s down 11, we have had Buffalo down five.  We have had ‑‑ and I would imagine there’s going to be a league game or two before we finish we’ll be down at half and have to see if we can fight to come back and we’re not at our best, it’s just how the season goes.

So when you say about undefeated, we’re playing every game to win, but if you do ‑‑ I told them last night, we lose today, we’re 20-1.  So?

I said, you lose in March, your season’s over.

Right now, you should just try to find out how good you can be.  And that’s all we’re doing.  I’m not ‑‑ I’ve had a team at Massachusetts (UMass) that was started the season like this, I had a team at Memphis that started the season like this, both of those teams took an L and by the end of the year were the best version of themselves.  By the end of the year.

So, and whether that happens to this team or not, one way or another, I would rather them win it all or win them all, but if they don’t, this doesn’t.  Just as long as we’re getting better.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports….

UK Sports- UK Runs Record to 19-0 With Win at South Carolina

KENTUCKY POSTGAME NOTES – No. 1/1 Kentucky at South Carolina – Colonial Life Arena –­­ Jan. 24, 2015 – Attendance: 18,000 – FINAL SCORE: No. 1/1 Kentucky 58, South Carolina 43

Team Records and Series Notes

  • UK HurricaneKentucky is 19-0, 6-0 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina is 10-8, 1-5 in the SEC.
  • UK leads the all-time series with South Carolina, 48-11, including a 19-7 mark in games played in Columbia.
  • Kentucky coach John Calipari has a 10-2 all-time record vs. South Carolina.
  • Calipari has a 616-177 overall record and a 171-37 mark at Kentucky.
  • UK has a 193-27 all-time record as the nation’s No. 1 team, winning 37 of the last 39 games as the AP’s top-ranked team.
    • Calipari has an 81-9 all-time record as the No. 1 team in the nation, including a 40-4 mark at Kentucky.
  • Kentucky will return to action on Thursday, traveling to Missouri for a 9 p.m. ET tip-off, with the game televised live on ESPN. The game will also be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network, with Tom Leach and Mike Pratt voicing the action.


Team Notes

  • With a 19-0 start, UK has tied the 2009-10 team for the third-best start in UK history.
    • UK’s 19-0 start is the best under coach John Calipari.
  • With 2,159 wins, Kentucky is the all-time wins leader in college basketball.
    • UK has a league-best 929-262 all-time mark in SEC play.
  • After Devin Booker’s 3-pointer to give UK a 9-8 lead early in the first half, Kentucky extended its streak of games with a 3-pointer to 919 consecutive, the second-longest streak in the nation.
  • UK improved to 14-0 when holding a halftime lead.
  • The nation’s leader in blocks and blocks per game, Kentucky swatted nine shots and have had at least three blocked shots in each game this season.
  • Kentucky is now 52-0 under Calipari when holding its opponent under 55 points, including 14 wins in 2014-15.
  • Kentucky held South Carolina to 23-percent shooting from the field and have held 10 opponents under 30 percent shooting on the year.
  • UK had more blocks and steals (17) than South Carolina had field goals (12).
    • It marked the eighth time in 2014-15 UK has had more blocks and steals than the opponent had field goals and the first time since a win over UCLA.
  • South Carolina had just five assists, marking the 15th time this season UK has held its opponent to under 10 assists.
  • Kentucky has held its opponent to under 55 points in 14 of 19 games, the most in school history in the shot-clock era (since 1985-86).
  • UK held South Carolina to just four field goals in the second half.
  • The Wildcats held the Gamecocks without a field goal from the 4:31 mark in the first half to the 15:12 mark in the second half.
  • UK also held South Carolina to a 6:16 field-goal drought that ended with a SC 3-pointer with 6:07 left in the game.


Individual Notes

  • Freshman guard Devin Booker charted a game-high 18 points, his fifth game with at least 18 points.
    • Booker is 22 for 33 over his last nine games from 3-point range.
    • Booker has led UK in scoring a team-best seven times.
  • Sophomore guard Aaron Harrison totaled 13 points, adding four rebounds and a season-high tying three steals.
    • Aaron Harrison has made 24 3-pointers over his last nine games and has had a 3-pointer in 11 consecutive games.
  • Junior forward Wille Cauley-Stein played in his team-leading 85th career game.
    • A member of the Midseason Wooden Award watch list, Cauley-Stein had two steals to become the first player in Kentucky history with 200 or more blocks and 100 or more steals.
  • Freshman guard Tyler Ulis had a team-best six assists in just 20 minutes, his most assists since dishing out seven in a win over Ole Miss.
    • Ulis added six points, three rebounds and a steal.
    • Ulis has a 63-17 assist-turnover ratio in his collegiate debut.
  • Freshman forward Trey Lyles made his seventh start of the year.
    • Lyles had seven points and two rebounds, adding an assist and a steal.
  • Sophomore center Dakari Johnson led UK with six rebounds and has had at least three rebounds in nine consecutive games.
  • Sophomore forward Marcus Lee tied his career high with four blocks, in just 13 minutes.

Men's Basketball – UK wakes up in time to "Roll Tide" 70-48.

UK was cruising at halftime and was up 35-17. That was the third straight half they held an opponent to under 20 points. As the 2nd half began, UK was a little lethargic as they let Alabama get within 9 points at 39-30. UK would then out score the Tide 29-10 for their largest lead at 68-40. Alabama would finish the game on a 8-2 run but the game was already in hand. Alabama, as well as many across the Nation thought this may be a trap game for UK and a possible loss the the undefeated Wildcats. Kentucky had other things on their mind though as they steadily pushed open their lead. UK is now 17-0.

Kentucky at Alabama, Men’s Basketball – Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Jan. 17, 2015

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 70, Alabama 48
*       Kentucky is 17-0, 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 12-5, 2-2 in league play, and ended its 14-game home winning streak.
*       Kentucky leads the series 104-37, including 29-23 in Tuscaloosa. The teams have a rematch two weeks from today,Jan. 31 in Lexington.
*       Along with Virginia, Kentucky is one of two undefeated teams in NCAA Division I.
*       With 17 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the fourth-best start in program history.
*       Kentucky is 195-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 35 of the last 37 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
*       Calipari has led three teams to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 79-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 38-4 at UK.
*       Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at home against Vanderbilt. Game time is 9 p.m. EST and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

Team Notes
*       Kentucky made 50 percent from the field, 23 of 46, the sixth time this season the Wildcats made at least half their shots.
*       UK made 8 of 17 (47.1 percent) on 3-point shots today. Over the last seven games, Kentucky has shot 44.2 percent on 3-pointers, 61 of 138.
*       For the second consecutive game, Kentucky shot a season-best at the free throw line. After making 80 percent of their foul shots vs. Missouri, the Cats canned 88.9 percent today (16 of 18).
*       UK has made at least 70 percent of its foul shots in five straight games.
*       In a mostly halfcourt game, UK averaged 1.25 points per possession.
*       Kentucky dominated bench points, 37-16.
*       Second year in a row that UK held Alabama to 48 points. UK won 55-48 last season in Lexington.
*       UK is 101-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 13-0 this season.
*       UK is 51-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 13 times this season.
*       No drama today in extending Kentucky’s streak of 917 consecutive games with a 3-pointer as Aaron Harrison connected a triple at the 16:24 mark of the first half.
First-Half Facts
*       Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein.
*       Kentucky big men passed the ball well early, getting all five of the team’s assists in the first 10 minutes.
*       Kentucky had three big runs on the first half:
*       Trailing 4-2, UK jumped ahead with a 10-0 run
*       With the score 13-9, the Wildcats put together an 8-0 run for a 21-9 advantage
*       At 21-14, a 10-0 spurt gave the Cats a 31-14 lead.
*       UK’s largest lead of the half was 18 on two occasions — at 33-15 and the halftime score of 35-17.
*       It is the 14th time this season that Kentucky held an opponent under 20 points in a half.

Second-Half Story
*       Kentucky started the second half with the same lineup that opened the game.
*       Switching to a man-to-man defense, Alabama scored the first seven points of the second half.
*       Alabama eventually got as close as 39-30 before the Wildcats put the game away with a 16-2 run to make it 55-32.
*       Kentucky’s largest lead was 28 points at 68-40 with 4:09 to play.

Player Notes
*       Devin Booker led the Wildcats with 13 points, including three of six on 3-point shots.  He has made 20 of 28 3-pointers (71.4 percent) over the last seven games.
*       Tyler Ulis tallied 11 points, including 3 of 4 on 3-pointers. It’s his third double-figure game of the season.
*       Dakari Johnson also had 11 points, his first double-figure game since notching 11 vs. Texas on Dec. 5.
*       Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and Dakari Johnson shared game-high rebounding honors with five caroms each as the Wildcats won the rebounding, 30-21.
*       Dominique Hawkins sat out the game because of a medical procedure earlier this week.

UK is back on track, Missouri takes a beating 86-37

Missouri at Kentucky, Men’s Basketball – Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky. – Jan. 13, 2015

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 86, Missouri 37

  • Kentucky is 16-0, 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Missouri is 7-9 overall, 1-2 in league play.
  • Kentucky leads the series 7-0, including 4-0 in Lexington.
  • Along with Virginia, Kentucky is one of two undefeated teams in NCAA Division I.
  • With 16 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the fourth-best start in program history, tying the 1933-34 team for that honor.
  • Kentucky is 194-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 34 of the last 36 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
  • Calipari has led three teams to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 78-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 37-4 at UK.
  • Kentucky returns to action Saturday at Alabama. Tipoff is 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. CST in Tuscaloosa) and it will be televised on ESPN.
Cats dominate Missouri - Photo by Tammie Brown - Midwest News & Sports
Cats dominate Missouri – Photo by Tammie Brown – Midwest News & Sports

Team Notes

  • This was Kentucky’s largest margin of victory against a Southeastern Conference opponent since a 62-point margin against Vanderbilt, 106-44, on March 5, 2003.
  • The 37 points scored by Missouri is the fewest by an SEC opponent since a 50-36 win over Mississippi State on Jan. 31, 1987.
  • UK held Missouri to below 20 points in both halves. It is the second time this season UK has achieved the feat (also vs. Montana State). UK has now held an opponent to 20 or fewer points in 12 halves this season.
  • Missouri was limited to 27.1 percent from the field, the ninth opponent this season held under 30 percent shooting. UK entered the game leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense (31.3 percent).
  • Missouri was held to 5.6 percent on 3-point shots (1 of 18), the lowest percentage this season by a Kentucky opponent.
  • Kentucky made 8 of 18 shots from 3-point territory, 44.4 percent. Over the last six games, Kentucky has shot 43.8 percent on 3-pointers, 53 of 121.
  • Kentucky shot a season-best 80 percent from the foul line, hitting 24 of 30.
  • UK is 100-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 12-0 this season.
  • UK is 50-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 12 times this season.
  • Tyler Ulis’ 3-point shot with 13 minutes to go in the first half extended Kentucky’s streak of a 3-pointer in 916 consecutive games. It’s the second-longest streak in the country.

First-Half Facts

  • Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Dominique Hawkins, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the third time this season.
  • Leading 12-10, Kentucky took control by closing the half with a 32-8 run, going to intermission ahead 44-18.

Second-Half Story

  • Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson.
  • Kentucky outscored Missouri 42-19 in the second half, the 12th half of the season that UK held the opponent under 20 points.

Player Notes

  • Aaron Harrison led all scorers with 16 points. He made five 3-pointers, tying his career high set a week ago vs. Ole Miss.  He has made at least two 3-pointers in six straight games.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein compiled 13 points, his best since tallying 15 in the win over North Carolina on Dec. 13.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns had 12 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double of the season (also vs. UT Arlington).
  • Devin Booker had a perfect shooting night. He made both field-goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, and both free throws for a total of seven points.  He has made 17 of 22 3-pointers (77.3 percent) over the last six games.
  • Dominique Hawkins made his third start of the season, his first since the Montana State game on Nov. 23. He tallied six points, three assists and a career-high two steals.





  1. Last week it sounded like you weren’t going to go to a 10‑man rotation, so what changed to put Dominique (Hawkins) in there?

COACH CALIPARI:  Well, I had planned on it, I just didn’t tell you guys.  I don’t tell you guys everything.

After the last game I just said I’m going back to 10.  Then the question became, would it be Derek (Willis) or Dominique (Hawkins).  Dominique had played better in practice, and he deserved the opportunity and he did well today.  I mean, he belonged in the game.  His energy was great, he drives over the middle ‑‑ missed a couple jumpers, but he’s shooting the ball well in practice he just hadn’t been in the games enough.

I thought our defensive intensity, because of the platoons, was back to where it was.  No one got hurt today.  Everybody helped themselves as a player and they helped our team.  The only thing that gets in the way is the ego.  You should be playing more – and why aren’t you shooting more – and this is crazy – and it’s all ego.  Everyone helped themselves, their deficiencies today were off the charts.


  1. In terms of making a decision to start that 10th guy, was that to balance out that second group, get Trey Lyles offensively?

COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah.  Because if I would have started Derek, it would have been Derek with that second group.  I just didn’t want to have two smaller guys on the same team.

And, it did another thing:  It let Dominique play the ball.  So now you always have pressure on the point guard.  Dominique or Tyler (Ulis).  I don’t know if I’ll do it next game.  I may not.


  1. I was just going to ask you that, about Dom’s defense on (Keith) Shamburger.  How important that was?  Setting a tone early.

COACH CALIPARI:  Well the one thing we said is, we wanted to take away they’re 3s. That was the whole game plan.  They did it through screen the screeners, they did it through ball screens, last game they made 10 3’s.

They have been shooting 23 to 24 3’s a game the last five games.  And let me say this:  They got what UCLA and Kansas got.  That’s what they got.  That effort.

But understand, they had Illinois beat, they lost by two.

They had Oklahoma State, they lost in overtime.  They had them beat.  These are their last five games.

They beat LSU.

And they had Auburn down 10 and they ended up losing by a couple.

So, you can say what you want, they played a buzz saw today.  I think what Kim (Anderson) has done with his team to get these guys to play the way they have to play to win.  Think about it, they beat LSU and had Auburn.  They should have come in here 2‑0.  They had Auburn down 12.


  1. About that effort and the buzz saw, was there oratory on your part to produce that or was it a pride thing among the guys?

COACH CALIPARI:  What I said before the game is, if they give a great effort, I’m going to give them off tomorrow.  Kind of like what we did for Christmas.  You’re going to have three, four days off.  And they went nuts.

So I said, we’re going to have ‑‑ now I took that back and I said, we are practicing tomorrow ‑‑ but I did say that prior to the game.


  1. Karl (Anthony Towns) had a double-double, but it didn’t seem like you were totally thrilled the whole game with him.  Could you talk about his play a little bit.

COACH CALIPARI:  Well, what he did, I thought he fought like crazy and I thought it was the best game he’s played in weeks.  Best game he’s played in weeks.  And the reason is he sustained effort.

Now, he still broke down and I let him know every time he did.  His breakdowns were standing straight up and down, not being in the stance, not being alert to move, getting caught in a mud wrestling match with a big because you won’t bend your legs.  And then the ball comes to you and you can’t even rebound it because you’re in a mud wrestling, it hits you, you can’t get it.  Its things like that that I’ve gotten on him about.

But he’s getting better.  He’s a great kid.  I took him out, if Marcus Lee one‑hand rebounds, he’s coming out.  That moment.

If Karl (Anthony Towns) steps back to shoot a 3, he’s coming out.  So he stepped back to shoot a 3, you’re out.  I mean I ‑‑ that’s just ‑‑ I told him that and that’s what he did.


  1. Would you talk about the greater production from the paint.  Was there more going inside out tonight?

COACH CALIPARI:  We showed tape of Texas A&M where we didn’t throw it to the post and I basically said, if you don’t throw it to the guy when he’s open, you’re coming out.

So it’s pretty simple.  If he’s open, throw it to him.  Well, I thought ‑‑ you’re out.  You’re not playing, I’m playing somebody else.  I hate to do it that way, but that’s what we did.

The other thing I did today is, we did more of a random zone offense.  In other words, play off of each other.

If we have the best players in the country, we don’t have to run a whole lot of plays, we’ll run some plays, but you got to be able to play off of each other.

Now what that does is, you can’t use the offense as an excuse now.  Why aren’t you competing, why aren’t you driving?  Why aren’t you ready to play?

You can’t say it’s, well I thought we were running ‑‑ no, it’s random.  You got to get in gaps, you got to drive the ball, you got to post the ball.  You got to figure out if a guy drives where do I move to get out, who is flashing to the middle.

So I’m just trying to do some stuff to keep these guys going and I told them after the game, I don’t want them to be in March looking like it’s March.

We still offensively broke down a bunch today.  And even ‑‑ there were some defensive breakdowns.  But I said it’s January 15th, that’s what you should look like, a January team.  Play hard and defend you can do those things and still look like a January team.


  1. Did we all maybe under estimate the significance of (Alex) Poythress going out and how long it might take you guys to figure out how to play without him?

COACH CALIPARI:  In a physical game it is devastating he’s not here.  In a physical game ‑‑ and we have had some physical games.  But we still have things we got to take care of.  But it was nice.

We needed to have a win where we could get our swag back a little bit.  Get ‑‑ but it was all based on an effort and an intensity and we never let up.  We never let up through the clock and through the game.


  1. Talk about Willie’s play.  When you look at that line, what you want?

COACH CALIPARI:  Willie was really, really good today.  I will tell you that I still think offensively he can do more.  He needs to have a wider base.  He needs to create contact instead of trying to move from contact.  When he makes free throws and he’s been working on it, even at the shoot around today he stayed after and shot another 25 free throws.  Guys, they know what they have to do.  But today, again, every player performed.  No one played ‑‑ Willie played 23 minutes, only because Marcus Lee was one‑handed rebounding.  Any time he one‑handed rebounded, I took him out.


  1. So when Willie says he hits 80 out of a hundred free throws every day?

COACH CALIPARI:  He’s making them.  He is.  But you got to do that stuff in the game, too.


  1. Did you like the shots that Aaron was taking tonight after his 2‑13 performance from three the other night?

COACH CALIPARI:  It was 4‑20.  4‑20.  2‑13 doesn’t sound good, 4‑20 sounds worse.

But, no, he was good.  They listen.  Look, the greatest thing is we have got great kids.  They don’t play great every night out, but they want to do well, they want to listen, they want to be coached.  They celebrated each other today.  You have to admit, people talked about our defense and our bench.  Well, what happened to our bench in the last few games?  Our bench went away.  So the platoon got us back to being into each other and celebrating each other.

Now we got to build on this.  We got a tough game, we got to go to Alabama, I bet you they haven’t lost there yet.  They’re playing well, had Wichita State down 10 with two and a half minutes to go.  I mean, they’re a Top‑20 RPI team.  So, it’s going to be a hard one for us.


  1. You said you felt like you guys got your swag back tonight.  Is that something that you did in practice tonight before the game or is that something that you just saw in this game?

COACH CALIPARI:  No, we went in with an idea for each platoon.  If you gave up more than six points, you were out.  So, you weren’t going to get your full minutes.

And if you really played and you had that, you could sustain it, we would give you more minutes than the four minutes.  But it was a six point first half, they didn’t get six in any of the sets ‑‑ they got six in one segment, they didn’t get more than six.  So we’re trying to challenge them with different things to keep them motivated to play.  And it’s really to play defense.  We’re a defensive team.  That’s what we are.


  1. What was the key to slowing down Johnathan Williams and how important was it to do that?

COACH CALIPARI:  Well, he is really, he’s gotten so much better.  Today the length bothered him.  We just made him get to his right hand.  We didn’t ‑‑ we were trying really hard not to let him get to that left hand.  I think that the length of our team, you think, oh, we’re all right, and then you get out there and the guards are 6‑6 and 6‑7 and Trey Lyles is 6‑10 and two seven footers and we’re long and all of a sudden your drives are not like, I got a lay up, you’re thinking, man, I may get this blocked.

UK needs Double Overtime to go 15-0

Kentucky Basketball Postgame Notes – Kentucky 70, Texas A&M 64 (2OT)

Jan. 10, 2015 – Reed Arena – College Station, Texas

Team Records, Notes

  • Kentucky improved to 15-0 overall to start the season and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference, while Texas A&M fell to 9-5, 0-2 in the SEC.
  • UK leads the series 5-2.
  • Kentucky is 193-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 33 of the last 35 games as the Associated Press top-ranked team.
    • Coach John Calipari has led three teams to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 77-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 33-4 at UK.
  • UK is 4-0 away from Rupp Arena this season.
  • Kentucky was taken to double-overtime for the first time since Jan. 12, 2008. The Wildcats lost to Vanderbilt, 79-73, in triple-overtime at Rupp Arena on that day.
  • Kentucky is 2-0 in overtime this season.
    • The Wildcats are now 56-45 in overtime games all-time.
  • Kentucky will return to Rupp Arena on Tuesday when it hosts Missouri. The game is set to air live on ESPN at 9 p.m.


Team Notes

  • Kentucky’s starting lineup consisted of Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony for the fifth straight game.
  • Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson were the first to hear their names called off the bench.
  • Booker hit a 3-pointer at the 14:40 mark of the first half – UK’s first field goal of the game –  to extend UK’s 3-point streak to 915 consecutive games. Kentucky entered the game with the second-longest streak in the country, behind only UNLV.
  • UK held Texas A&M to 33.3 percent from the floor, the 13th opponent this season the Cats have limited to less than 40 percent from the floor.
  • Texas A&M hit 13 of its first 24 shots, but the Cats held the Aggies to 10 of 45 from the floor (22.2 percent) the rest of the game.
  • Over a 12:35 stretch of game time (starting at the 5:35 mark of the second half), UK limited Texas A&M to just five points and one field goal. During that defensive dominance, Kentucky turned a 28-17 deficit into a 39-33 lead.
  • The Wildcats swatted 10 shots, the seventh time in 15 games UK has blocked 10 or more shots in a game.
  • Kentucky outscored all 13 of its nonconference opponents in the paint but has been beaten inside the paint in both of its conference games. The Cats lost that battle to the Aggies on Saturday, 38-14.


First-Half Notes

  • UK fell behind 9-0 to start the game, missing its first seven shots. Booker got the Cats in the scoring column with a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 14:40 mark.
  • The first 15 of Kentucky’s 17 points were from behind the arc. The Cats started the game 5 for 10 from behind the 3-point line but just 1 for 10 from inside it. Overall, UK was 6 for 13 from behind the 3-point line but only 3 for 17 inside the arc in the first half.
  • Continuing his torrid streak from behind the 3-point line, Booker hit three 3-pointers in the first half. His trey at the 7:32 mark was his 15th make in his last 17 attempts.
  • Alex Robinson’s bank shot put UK behind 28-17, tying the largest deficit of the season. UK trailed Columbia 11-0 on Dec. 10.
  • Kentucky answered its largest deficit of the season with a pretty strong resolve. Led by Towns, the Cats reeled off eight straight points. Towns had five points during the run.
  • UK held Texas A&M without a point for the final 5:35 of the first half.
  • Booker scored nine points in the first half, including three 3-pointers. Towns added five points and five rebounds.
  • Kentucky hit six 3-pointers in the first half, matching a season best in one half.
  • UK trailed 28-25 at the break. The Wildcats improved to 4-0 when trailing at halftime this season.


Second-Half Notes

  • UK took its first lead of the game, 29-28, when Aaron Harrison made a pair of free throws at the 19:02 mark.
  • Kentucky pulled ahead 39-33 with 12:15 remaining after a 14-5 start to the second half, but Texas A&M scored six straight points to tied it at 39-39 with 10:43 left.
  • Tied 39-39, UK went on an 8-2 run. The Cats never trailed the rest of the second half.
  • Kentucky got to the bonus with 10:12 to go in the second half (double bonus at 9:23), which proved to be big in the victory. The Cats hit 16 of 20 free throws after halftime to eventually pull away.
  • Making a basket wasn’t easy in the second half. Texas A&M was 28.6 percent from the field, while UK shot 20.8 percent.
  • After losing the rebounding battle in the first half, the Cats outrebounded the Aggies 23-22 after halftime

Overtime Notes

  • Kentucky took the first lead of overtime on a Booker and-1, but the 84-percent free-throw shooter missed the free throw.
  • Texas A&M took a 55-54 lead on a Tavario Miller free throw with with 2:51 remaining.
    • The Aggie’s lead was their first since the 16:11 mark in the second half.
  • Tyler Ulis’ first points of the game came when he nailed a 3-pointer 1:26 remaining in the second overtime.
    • The 3-pointer gave UK a 66-63 lead, which it would never relinquish.


Individual Notes


  • Devin Booker continued to torch the nets from long range, hitting four 3-pointers Saturday afternoon, raising his recent hot streak from behind the arc to 16 of 21 over the last five games.
    • Booker has led UK in scoring five times this season, which is the most on the team. He has led UK in scoring in three of the last six games.
  • Aaron Harrison had a tough day shooting, but he came up with a game-high three steals and finished with 12 points.
  • Dakari Johnson tied for the team high with nine rebounds.
    • He finished with eight points, and the 57-percent free-throw shooter nailed two from the stripe with 14 seconds to play in the second OT to help seal the win.
    • Six of his eight points came in overtime.
  • Karl Anthony-Towns finished with nine points and nine rebounds, coming up just shy of what would have been his second career double-double.
    • Towns tied Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles with a game-high three blocked shots.
    • Towns fouled out with 2:41 remaining in the first overtime.

Ulis Named Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Week

First such honor of the season for a Kentucky player – St.Louis – Freshman Tyler Ulis has been named the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Week following his breakout performance at No. 4 Louisville on Saturday.

Ulis was selected by’s Matt Norlander, in partnership with the USBWA.

Ulis, a 5-foot-9 guard from Lima, Ohio, came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points in 26 minutes in top-ranked Kentucky’s 58-50 win over rival and 4th-ranked Louisville on Saturday. On the season, Ulis is averaging 5.8 points, 3.7 assists and 2.2 rebounds.

Norlander’s popular weekly freshman watch column will continue to feature nation’s the top freshmen each week in addition to the national player of the week. Later in the season, the USBWA will release a midseason watch list before naming finalists for the award. This season marks the first time a weekly national freshman of the week will be selected and, each Tuesday through Feb. 24, a standout first-year player will be chosen for the honor.

In addition to the USBWA honor, Ulis was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week and the Bluegrass Sports Commission Most Valuable Player for his efforts against Louisville.

Ulis is the first Wildcat to earn a weekly award from the USBWA this season, and the first since James Young claimed the Freshman of the Week honor on Dec. 31, 2013 following a double-double in last season’s regular season win over Louisville.

Kentucky will return to the floor on Jan. 6, 2015 to begin SEC play. UK hosts Ole Miss at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.

UK stays undefeated as they beat Louisville 58-50

By Ricky Blair

The freshmen stole the show as the Wildcats defeated Louisville 58-50 in the Yum Center.  This young group of Cats, playing in their first road game of the season, rose to the occasion, scoring 39 of the Wildcats’ 58 points.  The smallest stood the tallest on this day, as the 5-foot-9 point guard Tyler Ulis played a sensational game.  “That’s the best I’ve seen him play since I’ve coached him,” said UK coach John Calipari after the game.  Despite repeatedly going out of the game to stop bleeding that came from a blow to the head, Ulis scored a game high 14 points and committed 0 turnovers in his 26 minutes of play.  Twelve of Ulis’ points came in the second half as he continually made big play after big play including two huge three-point shots that kept the Cardinals from putting together a serious run.

While Ulis was stealing the show, he wasn’t the only freshman who shined on this day.  Karl-Anthony Towns contributed 10 points and 9 rebounds, battling the Louisville big men all day long.  Shooting guard Devin Booker was steady as he, like Ulis, did not commit a turnover against the Louisville defensive pressure. Booker contributed 9 points, while freshman forward Trey Lyles logged a game high 30 minutes, scoring 6 points and pulling down 9 rebounds.  Lyles played well in the first half, making all three of his baskets in the first 20 minutes.  At one stretch in the second half, this freshman scored 22 of 23 points for Kentucky, helping the Wildcats build a double-digit lead.

For basketball purists, this was not a pretty game. Both teams’ defense led to the other teams’ offensive struggles.  Kentucky, already leading the nation in defensive field goal percentage, showed the BBN why as they held Louisville to 25 percent shooting on the game.  Louisville only made 15 of 58 shots and was a lowly 3 of 14 from three-point range.

In what was a very physical game, which was exhibited by the blood on Tyler Ulis’ face, it was strange that only six free throws were taken in the first half, all of those by Louisville.  Kentucky shot zero free throws in the first half and did not shoot their first until 14:27 remained in the game.  Truly amazing.

With the win over Louisville, the number one ranked Wildcats are now 14-0 on the season and will start SEC play at home on January 6th with a game against Ole Miss.

Battle of the Bluegrass, and the Emmy goes to……

UK vs UL

The Battle of the Bluegrass was everything it was expected to be. #1 U.K. Wildcats vs in state rival and #4 Louisville Cardinals. Both team tops in the Nation defensively, both crowned National Champions in past 3 years. U.K. has been beating it’s opponents by an average of 29.1 points per game and hasn’t allowed any team closer than 10 points. This also included beat downs of Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA. UK would end up winning the game 58-50 ending their double digit win streak. This was after Kentucky, twice, fouled three point shot attempts by U of L late in the game to give the Cardinals a chance to get the final tally under 10.

Louisville at times, must have thought there were judges for TV Emmy’s in the crowd as Cardinal players put on performances worthy of an acting award. The best “FLOP” was when Wildcat center Dikari Johnson was trying to clear space after a rebound and U of L player Chris Jones fell as if he were shot with an elephant gun. Several angles on replay showed Jones was no where near Johnson’s elbow. To compound this acting job, Jones carried on for several minutes as if his jaw were broken. This if nothing else was an absolute embarrassment to college basketball as a whole.


UK vs UCLA - Photo by Brendon Miller - Midwest News & Sports
UK vs UCLA – Photo by Brendon Miller – Midwest News & Sports

As performances go, Kentucky today was really something special.  Calipari attributed the Cats performance to the fact that his team was so excited to go home for Christmas that it showed on the court.  Wow, if that is what the Christmas season brings, Cal may either want to move the players families into Wildcat Coal Lodge the rest of the season, or simply stop the clock and leave the tree and decorations up for the next four months.  That excitement produced an 83-44 clinic that was an annihilation of one of college basketball’s other blue bloods, storied UCLA.  For Brantley Gilbert fans, the CATS today didn’t lay down a Small Town Throwdown on the Bruins, but a Big Town Beatdown in the Windy City.

The Cats really seem to show up in big time, big promotion games, and take it to another level when the lights are the brightest.  Today was just an example of what this team can be when they put it all together.  Defensively, this team is simply, phenomenal.  Just like the whip job they put on Kansas a few weeks ago in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis, the defensive numbers today were again historic.  24-0 to begin the game, 41-7 at the half,  and a field goal percentage of 8.1 % in the first half against an admittedly not great UCLA team, but a good team that was capable of putting some points on the board.  As what has now become the norm, it was difficult for UCLA to get a good shot, and when they did, it was contested, or ended up being one of 13 blocks.  The Cats defense is going be a constant from game to game, as UCLA Coach Steve Alford put it, ““I think this is a team (Kentucky) that if they were to shoot only 20% and only score 50 points, they will still hold you to 35 points and beat you.  They are just that good.”

When the Cats are clicking offensively, this is the result.  Shooting 50% from the field and 46.2% from 3Land means any opponent is in trouble.  UCLA tried to pack in a zone to start the game, but after Aaron Harrison hit a three just 15 seconds into the game and a second three minutes later it was 16-0 at the first timeout.  Devin Booker then went on an 8-0 run by himself with two threes and a dunk in less than a minute, nearly half of his team high 19, and the score was 24-0, at the 12:40 mark.  The result was decided.  Alford summed it up, “In my 24 years of coaching, this is the best team I’ve coached against.  This is a really, really, really good team.  If they continue to play at that level defensively, they have a chance to run this thing out.”

The challenge will be how Cal is able to keep this team “excited” for the balance of the season after next week’s showdown with Louisville.  The average margin of victory is now 29.1 points a game.  Devin Booker was asked the teams mentality when it dominates a team and get a lead on them like today, to which he stated the “We have to keep playing against ourselves.  Coach always stresses to us we’re not playing against the other team; we’re playing against ourselves.”  If Cal can continue to keep this group “excited” by “playing against themselves”, Cats fans will be the ones excited in April.