Kentucky takes an unprecedented 38-0 record to the Final Four. Yet, an even more arresting — and, perhaps, more revealing — number is this: There are 631 Division I players who've averaged more points this season than the Cats' leading scorer.
That player, Aaron Harrison, averages 11.0 points. None of Kentucky's previous 15 Final Four teams had a leading scorer average so few points. Alex Groza averaged a team-high 12.5 points in 1947-48.
The last time Harrison averaged so few points?
"Never, really," he said after Kentucky beat Notre Dame 68-66 in the Midwest Region finals Saturday. "But I'm used to it, now.
"It's good to be on a 38-0 team. It doesn't matter."
Of course, this Kentucky team — with its eight healthy McDonald's All-Americans and Willie Cauley-Stein — has been about the won-loss record, not individual statistics. A nine-man rotation meant fewer minutes and, therefore, more modest individual statistics. Karl-Anthony Towns' team-leading average of 6.6 rebounds does not rank among the top 50 listed by the NCAA. Nor does Tyler Ulis' team-high average of 3.7 assists come close to inclusion in the top 50.
When asked how UK players handle less-than-gaudy individual statistics, Marcus Lee said, "We don't look at it. That's how we deal with it. ... We don't care about that. That's not our job to care (about statistics). Our job is to win games."
Towns' play in Cleveland reflected the wild variance between individual production and team success. He had a career-low one point in a 39-point victory over West Virginia on Thursday. His point increased UK's lead from 34 to 35 points.
Then against Notre Dame, Towns scored a career-high 25 points, each and every point important in a 68-66 victory that advanced UK to the Final Four.
While cradling the Midwest Region championship trophy, Towns explained why individual numbers pale in importance when compared to team success. "When you're carrying trophies like this, I mean, that's exactly how it feels," he said. "No one's mad. When you're holding hardware like this, we're going to be in the Final Four. No one's going to be mad about the numbers we have."
Coach John Calipari noted how the program hired an analytics specialist to massage the numbers and get them to purr more sweetly. Perhaps this makes the sacrifice easier to accept.
"All our stats are per minute stats that (the players) see," Calipari said. "And they're all based on 34 minutes per game."
For example, Harrison's team-leading average of 11.0 points per game becomes a more robust 14.4 ppg when prorated to an average of 34 minutes of playing time.
"Those stats are sent to the NBA," Calipari said. "Even though they don't need them because they're 'statting' them the same way we're 'statting' them."
Kentucky's game-winning points reflected the lack of dependence on any one player. With the score tied at 66-66 inside the final 20 seconds, UK had not one, not two, not three, but four options.
"Everybody on this team can make big plays," Lee said. "It's whoever has that open shot. We just ride off somebody's wave."
As Cauley-Stein explained it, point guard Andrew Harrison could lob to him, find a cutting Towns, pass to his almost-always clutch brother or drive himself.
"Dude didn't play him," Cauley-Stein said of the Notre Dame defender on Andrew Harrison. "And he just drove him and got fouled."
Andrew Harrison's two free throws with six seconds left capped a UK comeback from six down with less than six minutes left.
"That's the beauty of being on a team with such great players everywhere," Aaron Harrison said of the banquet of options possessed by his brother. "Of course, we can all go to a school and shoot 20 shots a game and be the leading scorer. But we're in the Final Four for a reason. Because we share.
"I think we have the best guards and the best big men in the country. And when you put that together and work as a team, it's hard to beat you."