Kentucky Sports – Wildcats in Search of Perfection

By Ricky Blair – 

Wildcats collapse on S.C. and win 77-43 (Photo by Tammie Brown Exclusively for Midwest News and Sports)
Wildcats collapse on S.C. and win 77-43 (Photo by Tammie Brown Exclusively for Midwest News and Sports)

After beating South Carolina this past Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats have tied a school record for most wins to start a season at 25.  They are in search of the perfect season, which isn’t easy.  Only seven teams have finished the regular season undefeated and then went on to win the National Championship.  UCLA accomplished this feat 4 different times (1964, 67, 72 and 73) while the great John Wooden was still coaching the team.  Other teams that have gone on to win a NCAA championship after finishing the regular season undefeated were the 1956 San Francisco Dons who were led by Bill Russell, the greatest winner of basketball championships of all time.  Russell not only won two NCAA championships, but also won 11 NBA championships in 13 years – truly unbelievable.  The 1957 North Carolina Tar Heels accomplished an undefeated season as heavy underdogs in the NCAA tournament championship game.  Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas were heavy favorites, but North Carolina won in triple overtime to secure the championship and the undefeated season.  The last team to win a National Championship after finishing the regular season undefeated was the “love to hate” Bobby Knight and his Indiana Hoosiers in 1976.  Indiana finished that year 32-0, but it took an overtime win over Kentucky during the regular season for the Hoosiers to secure the undefeated season.  As most fans recall, Kentucky spoiled Indiana’s chance at an undefeated season in 1975 when the Wildcats beat the Hoosiers to go to the final four.

Now the story on this year’s team.  Kentucky has a chance to smash the record for undefeated teams by going 40-0, if they can accomplish this feat.  The best record was 32-0 by both North Carolina in 1957 and Indiana in 1976.  The journey has not been easy for this year’s team, especially during SEC play.  Kentucky was taken to overtime by both Ole Miss and Texas A&M and has had several close calls including recent games with Florida and LSU. However, Kentucky has overcame each situation and is still moving forward on the journey.   The Cats have six regular season games left and potentially, three SEC tournament games. To secure a national championship, it would take six NCAA tournament games, so there is still a ways to go before reaching perfection.  Whether or not Kentucky can stay undefeated is still undetermined. The ultimate goal is to win another NCAA championship, no doubt. But reaching total perfection would mean sending this team down as one of the all-time greats.  It sure would give fans something to brag about for the ages.

(Game Notes Courtesy UK Athletics)

Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., Feb. 14, 2015 – FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 77, South Carolina 43

• Kentucky is 25-0, 12-0 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina is 12-12 overall, 3-9 in

league play.

• Kentucky leads the series 49-11, including 26-2 at home.

• With 25 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK has tied the 1953-54 team for the best start

in program history.

• Kentucky is 202-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 47 of the last 49 games as The

Associated Press top-ranked team.

• Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a

91-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 50-4 at UK.

• Calipari is now 177-37 (.827) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any

coach in UK history.

• Kentucky led the entire game. UK has trailed for only 144:57 of a possible 1,015 minutes this

season.

• Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at Tennessee. Game time is 7 p.m. EST and it will be televised

on ESPN.

Team Notes

• Kentucky held South Carolina to 23.6 percent from the field.

• It is the 11th game this season that the Wildcats have held a team under 30 percent.

• UK entered the game leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 34.2 percent.

• South Carolina had only three assists on the 13 made baskets. It is the second-lowest opponent

assist total of the season, next to one assist by Louisville in that game.

• UK won rebounding 45-21. The +24 margin is the second-largest of the season and highest margin

vs. an SEC opponent.

• The rebounding helped UK to a 14-3 advantage in second-chance points and 34-16 lead in

points in the paint.

• Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field, 27 of 54. It is the eighth game this season that the

Wildcats made at least half their shots.

• UK hit 75 percent at the free-throw line, 18 of 24. It is the 10th time in the last 13 games that the

Cats have made at least 70 percent from the line and today’s performance moved UK over 70

percent for the entire season at 70.1.

• Balanced scoring featured seven Wildcats with at least eight points.

• UK is 108-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 20-0

this season.

• UK is 55-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 17

times this season.

• Kentucky’s streak of 925 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Aaron Harrison

tripled at the 9:29 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 for the eighth time this season.

• Kentucky scored the first four points of the game and jumped out to an 18-3 lead.

• UK led by as many as 27 points on two occasions before going to intermission with a 43-18 lead.

• It is the 15th time this season that UK has held an opponent under 20 points in a half.

Second-Half Story

• Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee and

Dakari Johnson.

• Kentucky held South Carolina scoreless for the first 4:22 of the second half and without a basket

for more than six minutes.

• UK enlarged the lead to as many as 39 points at 72-33.

Player Notes

• Dakari Johnson collected his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-
high-tying 13 rebounds. He had the same stats in the season opener vs. Grand Canyon.

• Karl-Anthony Towns had a perfect shooting day from the field, making 3-of-3 field goal attempts.

He totaled nine points and is averaging 13.4 points over the last five games.

• Willie Cauley-Stein led the Wildcats with 14 points, his third-consecutive game in double figures.

He’s averaging 14 points over those three games.

• Aaron Harrison chipped in 11 points, equaling his team-high average for the season.

• Andrew Harrison contributed nine points and a game-high six assists.

 

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