UK Men's Basketball

UK notes: Calipari feels need to guard against 'buzz' surrounding team

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talked to his team as #1 Kentucky defeated Texas-Arlington 92-44  on Tuesday November 25, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talked to his team as #1 Kentucky defeated Texas-Arlington 92-44 on Tuesday November 25, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

Another rout. Another opposing coach saying an undefeated season is plausible, if not inevitable.

Kentucky's 92-44 victory over Texas-Arlington on Tuesday night continued an early-season pattern. UK Coach John Calipari said he had a strategy to guard against being lulled into defeat by platitudes.

"All I'm doing is focusing on this team," he said. "I'm focusing on individuals. What can I keep adding to their game? And then, I'm looking at a team. How do we become a better execution team offensively? How do we continue to play with this kind of energy? And what other tweaks can we give the defense?"

Calipari noted the reason behind this strategy.

"What can we do, because, folks, I'm going to have to keep this team engaged all year," he said. "And right now, we're ahead defensively, so I need to start adding stuff, and even if it's little things, to make them think, so that they don't get into that rut of just hearing the buzz."

Calipari made a buzzing sound.

"Those are the kind of things we're going to have to do as the year goes on," he said.

UT Arlington Coach Scott Cross buzzed like a busy bee after the game. When asked whether Kentucky could be undefeated this season, he did not hesitate.

"It is very possible that they could go undefeated," he said. "If they play the way they did tonight, playing together as a team, going inside, and when they keep hitting shots, they are not going to lose, for sure."

The makings of a UK defeat would involve "really poor" shooting by the Cats and an opponent with great size, Cross said.

"It would have to be one of the powerhouse teams having an unbelievable night to knock them off," the UT Arlington coach said.

Poythress plays

Alex Poythress played after missing the last two games because of illness. He made two of seven shots and scored four points. He also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots.

"Alex was sick today," Calipari said. "You knew he was going to struggle. He hadn't practiced with us."

Calipari also noted how Marcus Lee struggled (no points, one rebound in 12 minutes). "I don't understand what his deal was," the coach said.

Noteworthy victory

From pre-game notes: UK's 72-40 win over No. 5 Kansas was the program's biggest margin of victory over a top-five team since a 41-point victory over No. 2 St. John's on Dec. 17, 1951.

UK's four victories in the Cawood Ledford Classic came by an average margin of 41.3 points.

UK's 55-12 halftime lead equalled the second-largest lead at intermission in program history. The largest: 86-42 at LSU on Jan. 16, 1996.

UK also led by 43 points (75-32) at halftime against Georgia on Feb. 27, 1956.

The 86-28 victory over Montana State was only the 14th time in Rupp Arena history that Kentucky won by 50 or more points. UK barely missed doing it in back-to-back games.

UK hasn't had two victories by 50 or more points in a season since 1955-56: 104-51 over Georgia Tech on Jan. 7 and 143-66 over Georgia on Feb. 27.

Top big man?

In its latest issue, Sports Illustrated adds a name to any list of college basketball's best big men.

"Out of nowhere, Alan Williams has become arguably the best big man," the magazine said of the 6-foot-8, 265-pound senior for UC Santa Barbara.

Through three games, Williams is averaging 21 points and 12.3 rebounds. If you think his numbers are inflated by a soft schedule, he scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds at Kansas on Nov. 14.

"Rebounding is a science," he said in a SI promotional email. "It's not about who can jump the highest, or who can create the most space. It's about who knows where the ball is going to be, has the most efficient way of getting there and makes sure they're prepared to go up and get it."

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