Date story published: Sunday, January 21, 1996
Monotony never looked so good.
Kentucky pulverized another opponent last night. Texas Christian was the designated unfortunate this time. UK rolled to a 124-80 victory that featured what passes as the norm this season. Plenty of dunks, smiles, chest bumps, no- you-take-it unselfishness on offense and yes-I'll-take-it stinginess on defense.
For variety, guard Tony Delk set a school record with nine three-point baskets.
UK (15-1) could have relaxed. TCU (9-9) offered no serious threat. Yet the Cats methodically destroyed the Horned Frogs for a 14th straight victory, UK's longest since 1985-86.
"I told them I call them 'The Professionals,' " Pitino said. "They keep playing hard no matter the circumstances."
Coming off a 129-97 destruction of LSU on Tuesday, Kentucky set a school record for points in a two-game span. The 253 points eclipsed the 244 scored against Georgia (143) and Tennessee (101) in 1956.
Scarier still, it could have been more lopsided either game had Pitino kept pressing after halftime.
"It could have been more vicious than it was," said TCU Coach Billy Tubbs, who gained a reputation for pouring it on when he worked at Oklahoma. "If they gave us 40 minutes of traps, full-court press and half-court traps, it really would have been brutal."
Kentucky's efficiency almost robbed Delk of the three-point record. Delk appeared finished for the evening when he went to the bench with 11:58 left. UK led 83-41, thanks in part to a 19-0 run a few minutes earlier.
But with 2:34 left -- and UK ahead by 47 -- Delk re-entered the game.
"Tony told me he needed one more (three-pointer for the record)," Pitino said. "He said, 'Do you want Derrick Miller to have the record?' "
Pitino yielded to Delk's good-humored jab, but not without a warning. "If you get hurt, I'll never talk to you again," the UK coach said.
Thirty seconds later, Delk swished his eighth three-pointer to tie Miller's 6-year-old record. A minute later, with 64 seconds left in the game, he launched an improbable high-arching shot from the left sideline that swished.
"That last shot, jeez, that's pure shooter," said freshman Wayne Turner, who again provided a spark as the starting point guard. "I don't think he was even set. They'll be replaying that one over and over."
All nine of Delk's baskets came on three-pointers. "I know that left corner was screaming in the first half," Turner said of Delk's favorite spot.
Delk's 27 points moved him past Mike Casey and into 10th place on UK's career scoring list with 1,548 points.
Surprisingly, Delk said of his nine-for-13 shooting, "I wasn't hot. Hot's making a lot in a row. They were open shots. That's my job."
"Delk shot great, but we didn't challenge any of his shots all night," the TCU coach said. "The way we were playing defense tonight, I think I could knock down some of those shots."
By Kentucky's recent Mount Everest standards, the first half represented a retreat. The Cats scored 23 fewer points than in the first half at LSU. Yet, the 63 points made for UK's second-highest scoring of the season.
As expected, TCU tried to run with Kentucky. The Horned Frogs shot quick and fell behind about as fast. The Cats led by 10 inside the first four minutes, by 20 inside the first seven minutes.
"The first 10 minutes of the game were critical," Tubbs said. "I felt the game got out of hand quickly. This was a learning experience for our team. Maybe too much of a learning experience."
Kentucky, a 28-point favorite, had that almost covered inside the first 10 minutes. UK led 34-8 on Mark Pope's three-pointer with 10:41 left.
At that juncture, Kentucky was on pace for, oh, about 150 points.
For the fun of it, Kentucky buried TCU with a 19-0 second-half run. Derek Anderson sparked the shift to light speed with ball-hawking defense. Eight of his 13 points came in the run.
What followed included freshman Nazr Mohammed hitting a couple of nifty shots in the lane and Ron Mercer making a 360-turn layup in traffic.
Fun, fun, fun for a Kentucky team that seemed anything but tired of battering one opponent after another.
While Pitino continued to insist close games will come, maybe Wednesday at Georgia, he scoffed at the suggestion the Cats need a competitive game.
"It's like you're having a great time in your life and someone asks, 'Any concerns that you're going to die someday?' " the UK coach said. "It's like you've got a beautiful model in the agency and you're worrying about a mole on her arm."
Don't worry. Be happy.