UCLA coach hypes up Kentucky after big blowout loss

The Wildcats destroyed the Bruins 83-44.

      
 

 

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Kentucky scores first 24 points, crushes UCLA

No. 1 Kentucky scores first 24 points on way to 83-42 victory over UCLA; Booker has 19.

      
 

 

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Kentucky Continues Flexing Its Muscles on the Big Stage with Demolition of UCLA

CHICAGO — John Calipari finished his press conference following Kentucky’s drop-kicking of UCLA on Saturday afternoon by informing the media that his players are “not machines” and “not computers.”

No, the top-ranked Wildcats are just the best darn college basketball team that Steve Alford has ever seen.
Alford said that, or a variation of that, three times after his Bruins spotted the Wildcats 24 points before they even scored and went on to get smoked 83-44.

“They have everything,” Alford said.

Calipari will spend this season trying to control the message and keeping his team motivated, but after this and the Kansas massacre, it’s obvious that the Wildcats take it to another level when the stage is biggest and the lights are brightest.

Usually, at this point in the season, it would be ridiculous to start comparing a great team with great teams of the past.

But, what UK did to Kansas and UCLA is ridiculous. So let’s go ahead and start trying to quantify what we’re seeing.

The easiest way to do that, typically, is when a great team plays legitimate competition.

Well, Kentucky has played five power-conference schools. In those games, Kentucky’s defensive efficiency is 76.6. The only team in the country with a better number than that is Louisville, and that’s against Louisville’s cupcake schedule that ranks 241st in the country, according to kenpom.com.

Forget whether Kentucky could go undefeated against this schedule.

If anything, the schedule is the only thing slowing the Wildcats.

That’s the only logical explanation for how this juggernaut has trailed at halftime to Buffalo and Columbia.

“We have to keep playing against ourselves,” freshman guard Devin Booker said. “Coach always stresses to us that we’re not playing against the other team; we’re playing against ourselves.”

Booker, please.

Teams that are out chasing history like making statements. Kentucky knows exactly who it’s playing and is out making blue bloods look like cream puffs.

It’s almost been counterproductive to have great talent against Kentucky, because great players have pride and when it starts going downhill, they try to do too much. 

That’s exactly the wrong way to play against UK’s length, and it’s exactly what happened to the Jayhawks and Bruins. They tried to put their heads down and drive, and UK’s bigs gobbled up those shots up like Pac-Man. 

Even when you run good offense against UK, Calipari’s guys are so disciplined and long that they can make execution obsolete. 

“The starting five that they have, they can basically switch five ways, and Coach (Bobby) Knight, that was always his dream team, that he could get five guys 6’7″ or 6’8″ and just switch everything,” Alford said. “That’s hard to score on.” 

So hard that the Bruins looked like biddy-ballers in the first half. They had seven points at halftime. That’s not a misprint. Seven

Kentucky was so good that it sucked the juice out of an arena that was mostly filled with its own fans. The loudest the United Center got in the second half was for an old UK fan dancing on the big board during the under-four timeout. 

The scary part, Alford said, is that Kentucky can still get better. That’s especially the case on the offensive end, where the ‘Cats seem to be figuring out roles and figuring out how to play off each other. 

They made 12-of-26 of their threes, and that’s an impressive percentage (46.2), but they should shoot that well. Because when the ‘Cats run good offense, as they did against UCLA, they get great looks. Sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison is playing the best basketball of his career, and freshman Tyler Ulis is one of the best penetrators and passers in the country. 

Booker, who went 5-of-6 from deep and scored 19 points, wasn’t any more wide open in warmups. 

The real undefeated talk will, and should, pick up next weekend if Kentucky is able to get past fourth-ranked Louisville. The Cards do have some decent wins—Minnesota, Ohio State and Indiana—but none of those teams come close to matching UK’s size or speed or depth. 

The good news is Louisville has the type of defense that at least could present some challenges. The bad news is that these Kentucky guys eat up a good challenge. 

So here’s some advice for the Cards: Lock your fans out, throw on some pink unis and try to convince the ‘Cats they’re playing a school with hyphens in their name. 

Because when Kentucky has cared, game over.

 

C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.

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Kentucky scores first 24 points, crushes UCLA 83-42

No. 1 Kentucky scores first 24 points on way to 83-42 victory over UCLA; Booker has 19.

      
 

 

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Kentucky scores first 24 points, beats UCLA 83-44 (Yahoo Sports)

Kentucky players from left, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Trey Lyles, and Willie Cauley-Stein celebrate their 83-42 win over UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — No. 1 Kentucky made it look so easy that coach John Calipari felt the need to point out he had actual human beings on the court.


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Kentucky scores first 24 points, beats UCLA 83-42 (Yahoo Sports)

Kentucky players from left, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Trey Lyles, and Willie Cauley-Stein celebrate their 83-42 win over UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — Devin Booker had 19 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the game’s first 24 points in an 83-42 victory over UCLA on Saturday.


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Kentucky vs. UCLA: Score and Twitter Reaction for CBS Classic 2014

Kentucky had no interest in playing a close game before Christmas break.

While the CBS Sports Classic matchup against UCLA was meant to feature a quality battle between storied programs, the Wildcats scored the first 24 points of the game en route to a final score of 83-42.

Devin Booker led the way for Kentucky with 19 points to match his career high. Andrew Harrison also did a great job of setting up his teammates as he finished with eight assists to go with his own eight points. 

Still, this one was all about the defense as the Wildcats held their opponent to 26.8 percent shooting thanks in part to 12 blocks. 

Isaac Hamilton had 14 points for the Bruins, but it is tough to consider anyone having a good day in a game that was over almost as soon as it began. 

The first half was just an onslaught that seemed to never end for UCLA.

As Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal pointed out, things got ugly in a hurry:

It didn’t matter which platoon was on the court for Kentucky because the players showcased excellent team defense to make every possession a challenge for the Bruins. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman joked about the offensive struggles:

Meanwhile, the scored continued to get worse with those watching being completely stunned:

Finally, UCLA was at least able to get onto the scoreboard just before the second media timeout, as noted by Nicole Auerbach of USA Today:

The problem is the end to the 24-0 start did not lead to much more success for the Bruins as things only got worse. Arash Markazi of ESPN.com explained the thoughts as the half continued:

By the time the first 20 minutes were up, the score looked more like a one-sided football game at 41-7. Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader noted how bad things had gotten:

It’s hard to imagine what you would say if you were Steve Alford talking to his players at halftime.

The second half was not quite as scary with the Bruins finally starting to score some points. Of course, it was still a long way to go to even match the football team’s average production, as noted by Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:

They did eventually reach this mark, but even when they did make their shots, Kentucky was right there to continue to build its lead. Booker was especially impressive while draining his attempts from distance, as Chris Fisher of 247Sports pointed out:

Meanwhile, the entire Wildcats roster seemed to do no wrong in this game as the team was able to cruise to a dominant victory to move to 12-0 on the season.

This win becomes yet another argument for Kentucky not only winning a national championship but possibly ending the year undefeated. However, head coach John Calipari argued his squad still has a long way to go, via Tim Sullivan of The Courier-Journal:

I think when you start talking about the teams that were the great teams, they had Hall of Fame players. We have yet to prove where we are in that regard. I think we’re a terrific team. I think what we’ve been doing to keep reinforcements coming (with a two-platoon system) has made us even better and made it easier for each guy to perform at a higher level. 

(But) Let this season play out before they talk in terms of those teams because, again, some of them had three Hall of Famers on their team. …To compare us to those teams, come on.

Arguably the toughest test of the season will come in the next game. The Wildcats will go on the road to take on No. 4 Louisville on Dec. 27 in a matchup of bitter rivals who want nothing more than to give their opponent its first loss of the year.

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports discussed how big the game will be:

No matter who wins, the contest could still end up being a preview for a Final Four game at the end of the year.

UCLA will also be on the road in the next game against Alabama, the second of four-straight games away from home. The Bruins kick off their Pac-12 schedule with games at Colorado and Utah.

They will certainly hope this game can be used as a learning experience and bounce back to have more success going forward.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Kentucky Wildcats Hold UCLA to Single Digits in 1st Half, Lead 41-7

The Kentucky Wildcats are the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason, but going against a team like the UCLA Bruins, you’d at least expect the game to be close.

Instead, the Wildcats completely dominated the Bruins in the first half, holding them to just seven points to take a 41-7 lead heading into halftime. This behind-the-back pass attempt from Bryce Alford pretty much summed up the first 20 minutes:

As Brett Dawson from Rivals.com points out, the seven points allowed were the fewest for any Kentucky opponent in over 70 years:

The shooting for UCLA was simply awful, with the Bruins going 3-of-37 from the field, according to ESPN Stats and Info:

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Kentucky vs. UCLA: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction for CBS Classic 2014

Top-ranked Kentucky takes its power-packed platoon on the road for the inaugural CBS Sports Classic against UCLA this Saturday at the United Center in Chicago.

It is the first meeting in eight years between the Wildcats (11-0) and UCLA (8-3), but the schools are set to begin a home-and-home series next December in Los Angeles.

Kentucky has won every game by at least 10 points, beating a trio of ranked opponents by 19.3 points per game, including its last outing, when the Wildcats posted an 80-64 victory over North Carolina on Dec. 13. UCLA has not played since falling 87-74 at home to Gonzaga on Dec. 13.

The game is the second half of a doubleheader, with North Carolina and Ohio State opening the event. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET and will be shown live on CBS, but stick with us for real-time updates, analysis, pictures, tweets and anything else worthy highlighting from this neutral-site clash.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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No. 1 Kentucky, UCLA prepare to meet in Chicago (Yahoo Sports)

From left, Kentucky's Aaron Harrison, Tyler Ulis, and head coach John Calipari pause for a moment during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Kentucky won 84-70. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A quick glance at top-ranked Kentucky’s meeting with UCLA and it looks like another marquee opponent that could struggle to keep up with the Wildcats’ platoon system.


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