It's going to take more than one.
That's what No. 1-ranked Kentucky's 84-70 win over North Carolina on Saturday in Rupp Arena proved.
It's going to take a typhoon or an earthquake or an act of Congress or some other calamity beyond a single injury to knock this Kentucky basketball team off its expected path toward basketball excellence.
That's no knock on Alex Poythress, the terrifically athletic 6-foot-8 junior forward who was dealt a terrible break on Thursday, suffering a torn ACL in practice that abruptly ended his season.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
It's just that on a team this deep, this talented, and this, well, unselfish it's going to take more than one subtraction from a two-platoon team to give the rest of college basketball, or at least the vast majority of it, much of a fighting chance.
Ask North Carolina.
"(Kentucky is) very gifted," said Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams, whose hair looked a bit more white when he exited Rupp than when he arrived.
To be sure, there was lots of gloom and doom on the freaky Friday after the diagnosis that Poythress had in fact torn his knee ligament. Tears were shed. Pre-game enthusiasm was curbed. Practice, in the estimation of head coach John Calipari, was merely "blah."
Saturday, however, the Cats either put the emotions aside or rode the wave to rise to the occasion. Poythress may be gone, but other missing factors were suddenly found.
Like Devin Booker, the 6-foot-6 sharpshooter who missed the last game because of a bruised knee and whose shooting had run in bedeviling streaks. Upon his return Saturday, Booker merely swished all three of his three-point shots on the way to 15 points.
Like Tyler Ulis, the waterbug of a freshman who had missed the previous two games — the first with illness, the second with a minor foot injury — only to return just in time Saturday to harass the Heels' best player, ACC preseason Player of the Year, guard Marcus Paige, into scoring all of two points in the first half as UK led 49-34 at the break.
Then there was the matter of Aaron Harrison's three-point shooting from the NCAA Tournament. You remember that, right? The shooting that took down Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin last March but had failed to show up for the new season?
Welcome back. Saturday, Harrison went boom-boom-boom, making three straight breathtaking triples near the end of the first half like nails being driven into the tires of Carolina's team bus.
It should be noted that we haven't even mentioned yet the probable player of the game. That would be Willie Cauley-Stein, the 7-foot junior who scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and made four steals. That is known in basketball circles as an all-around game.
You could chalk up Saturday's heroics to the fact that Cauley-Stein is Poythress's best friend on the team. The latter helped the former through his injury in last season's NCAA Tournament. Cauley-Stein wants to return the favor now.
Speaking of last season, is there much doubt now that if Cauley-Stein had been healthy for that NCAA Tournament final against Connecticut there would be a ninth championship banner hanging in Rupp?
"It's hard to believe he played wide receiver in high school," said Williams, shaking his head.
Before now, it was ridiculous to believe any team could navigate an entire college basketball season without taking an L. Too many factors, too much parity, too many bounces of the ball must go your way for a team to replicate Indiana's 1975-76 feat.
Kentucky hasn't played a true road game yet. Louisville awaits in the Yum Center on Dec. 27. After that, conference play, even in the hoops-challenged SEC, can present rocky waters for even the biggest battleship.
The way Kentucky reacted Saturday, however, answering its first bad break of the season with a command performance, makes you think that if any team can — dare we say it? — win them all, this really could be that team.
"There are times when I watch this team and I go, 'Wow,'" Calipari said. "And then there are other times I'm like, 'What in the world?' So I can't tell you how good we could be."
Saturday, against some pretty fair competition, there were plenty of "Wow" moments. Sorry, college basketball, one injury isn't going to derail Kentucky.