For Loyola Coach Jimmy Patsos, Kentucky passed the eye test Thursday.
"Sometimes you see a top-10 team, and say, No," Patsos said after UK beat his team 87-63. "I say, Yes.
"They're a final-eight team," Patsos added of Kentucky. "After that, it's luck."
Patsos expected Kentucky to be good. The Cats entered the game ranked No. 3 in the nation. But UK was even better than anticipated.
"They're longer in person," the Loyola coach said. "I almost got hit in the head when he blocked one of my kid's shots."
That was in reference to a second-half shot Anthony Davis blocked into the seats behind the Loyola bench.
Oh those refs
Loyola came into the game as one of the more foul-prone teams, ranking 285th in the nation in committing fouls.
Although the referees whistled Loyola for 15 first-half fouls, resulting in UK's 17-for-22 bonanza at the line, that didn't prevent the Rupp Arena crowd from voicing its displeasure.
Less than 20 seconds into the game, a fan could be heard protesting a non-call on what might have been a walk by Loyola.
A reach-in call against Marquis Teague particularly agitated the crowd. It also resulted in a warning to the UK bench.
Less than five minutes later, referee Doug Shows called a technical on UK Coach John Calipari.
The charge-block call continues to benefit Kentucky's opponents.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist picked up his second foul on a charging call with 16:43 left in the first half. That was one of three first-half charges called on UK.
Going into the game, UK had been called for charging 17 times, while drawing only five charges on opponents.
'Trip and bite'
Calipari never mentioned Louisville or its coach, Rick Pitino.
But in assessing how well Kentucky can handle pressure defense, Calipari's comments brought Pitino and Louisville to mind.
"We're pretty good against the press," Calipari said after UK handled Loyola's pressure. "Unless you grab and hold and trip and bite; if it's normal basketball, I think we'll be fine."
Pitino has long used — shall we say — tenacious pressure as a signature strategy.
UK plays U of L on Dec. 31.
Deep into the second half, UK backup big man Eloy Vargas and Loyola starter Jordan Latham got entangled while pursuing a rebound under the visitor's offensive basket.
The physical exchange momentarily flared into the possibility of a punch thrown. But it did not escalate.
Meanwhile, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague got off the UK bench and started toward the other end of the court.
Assistant Coach John Robic sprang from his seat to intercept the players and send them back to the bench.
The Loyola coach formerly worked as an assistant for Gary Williams at Maryland. He likened Kidd-Gilchrist to Byron Mouton, a so-called "glue guy" on Maryland's national championship team of 2001.
The Loyola coach noted how he first met Calipari at a clinic 23 years ago. Calipari's emphasis on ball possession and getting loose balls made an impression.
"That guy's a really good coach," Patsos said. "Two hours (of Calipari lecture) on two hands on the ball. Getting possession."
In noting how UK beat Loyola, Patsos said, "They beat us to loose balls. What John Calipari talked about 23 years ago."
Kidd-Gilchrist led the defense that limited Justin Drummond to 4-for-12 shooting and 10 points. Drummond had a career-high 26 in Loyola's previous game. ... UK won its 42nd straight home game. That's one ahead of Duke as the longest current streak.