Never mind Kentucky's No. 1 ranking or the looming showdown with Michigan State next week. The opportune time to be in Rupp Arena — perhaps all season — came Monday night.
In an instant, UK freshman James Young accidentally turned an eye-glazing exhibition victory over gritty Division II Montevallo into you-were-there history.
Serendipity gave UK's 95-72 victory its moment of magic. Rushing to the sideline to retrieve a blocked Montevallo shot, Young flung the save attempt blindly into the air. With his back to the court, he could not see the ball spin toward the basket and, as if on a guide wire, zip through the rim.
What came next was surely unprecedented. The crowd rose and gave Young a standing ovation for scoring for the opponent. Or perhaps the crowd cheered its good fortune to witness what ESPN's Seth Greenberg said was something he had not seen in 37 years of coaching or commenting on basketball.
Sure, he'd seen a player accidentally score for the opposition. "Not from that far," Greenberg said.
Although Young was near the hash mark along the sideline, the basket only counted for two points, which puzzled both coaches.
"Why was that only two points?" UK Coach John Calipari asked reporters in the post-game news conference. "I thought he made a three."
Former Southeastern Conference referee Dave Bair, who was in Rupp to appraise the referees, said only a "legal shot" can count as a three-pointer.
Keeping his coaching cap firmly in place, Calipari spoke of the two-point save as a "great teaching lesson." Don't save a ball on the opponent's end of the floor.
True, but that sounded like calling the Sistine Chapel a "nice paint job." The joy of seeing a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence gets lost in technical jargon.
"Craziest thing I've ever seen in my life," Willie Cauley-Stein said with a smile. "I knew from the get-go it was going in. I thought, 'Oh my gosh, you've got to be kidding.'
"He looked at me (as if to say), 'Are you serious? Did that really happen?'"
Until Young inadvertently helped the cause, Montevallo had made only one of its first 10 shots of the second half to fall behind by 19 points.
The game seemed a methodical beatdown. In contrast to the first exhibition against Transylvania, Kentucky exploited a smaller opponent inside. The Cats amassed 60 points from the paint after getting 34 against Transy.
"I thought we played better than the last game," Calipari said. "That's all I'm asking."
Calipari lauded Montevallo's competitive spirit. "Those kids balled," he said. "They weren't afraid."
But Montevallo Coach Danny Young said his team failed to execute a game plan designed to limit Kentucky's inside scoring.
"Well, we were supposed to trap down" with guards, he said. "We did an awful job."
Already shorthanded in the backcourt, the Falcons lost shooting guard Ryan May to a hand injury inside the first five minutes.
Power forward Julius Randle led the Cats with 21 points and 11 rebounds. In addition to his two points for Montevallo, Young had 16 for UK.
Guard Troran Brown led Montevallo with 30 points.
Kentucky's 46-35 halftime lead reflected a re-emphasis on inside scoring and the need for more on defense.
Unlike the first exhibition against Transylvania, UK focused its offense on scoring around the basket. Of UK's first 38 points, 24 came from the paint. The Cats finished the half with 26 points from the paint. That compared to 14 points from the paint in the first half against Transy.
Randle led UK in the first half with 11 points.
Defensively, Kentucky struggled to contain Montevallo. Brown, the pick to be Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year, scored 10 of the Falcons' final 13 points of the half. He led all scorers with 14 first-half points.
Randle began the game guarding Brown. When Montevallo made four of its first five shots, Calipari switched UK's apparent stopper, Young, onto Brown. Down the stretch, Aaron Harrison got a turn.
Overall, Montevallo made nearly half its shots (16 of 34) to stay within arm's reach of Kentucky.
Ultimately, Kentucky was too strong and too good to be denied. Better still, from Calipari's point of view, the Cats suggested the process of meshing into an effective unit was under way.
"We're not a good team," the UK coach said. "We're a nice collection of guys, but not a good team."
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.