CHICAGO — Presumably early in Saturday's 83-44 victory, Kentucky stopped competing with UCLA. UK started playing to a standard of excellence.
"Coach (John Calipari) always stresses to us that we're not playing against the other team," Devin Booker said. "We're against ourselves."
Calipari defined that for-UK-only standard.
"We've got one thing: How do we become that world-class team," he said. "And it's real simple. One, you have few errors, and you have no unforced errors. That's what a world-class team is about.
"The second thing a world-class team is about: they absolutely enjoy even the tough times. They enjoy playing."
Calipari recoiled from the suggestion that Kentucky is well on the way to a season of historic achievement.
"I'm day-to-day," he said. "I'm in a grind. And I'm staying in the moment."
Freshman Devin Booker equaled career highs with five three-point baskets and 19 points.
Against Texas and Eastern Kentucky, he made one of 13 shots (zero for nine from three-point range). When asked if he had altered his shooting motion, Booker said, "I wouldn't say it's different at all. I keep all my mechanics the same. Always. I always have my whole life.
"I feel shooters go through slumps sometimes, and you have to shoot your way out of it."
Booker noted a lot of "good looks" against UCLA. Too good, UCLA Coach Steve Alford said.
"We didn't really want to come off Booker, and we give him all kinds of open looks," Alford said, "so we have a lot of breakdowns. And right now, our defense is too much predicated on what's happening offensively."
Twins under control
Andrew Harrison got credit for a season-high eight assists.
"I thought Andrew Harrison was unbelievable," Calipari said. "I mean, he did stuff, flying up and down the court. He had eight assists. He could have had two others that were kind of dropped. And he could have had a 10-assist game in 23 minutes."
Alford lauded Andrew and Aaron Harrison.
"Really under control and did a lot of good things as far as shot selection," he said. "And if they make shots like that, they even become harder to play against because they're just so hard to guard."
Tyler Ulis enjoyed his return to Chicago. He had seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"It was fun coming out here (and) getting a big win like that," he said.
UCLA freshman Kevon Looney, a McDonald's All-American, liked the idea of a rematch.
"Hopefully, we see them again," he said. "Because that was embarrassing and we want another stab at it."
Alford was not so sure.
"Not right now," he said about a rematch. "I appreciate Kevon's enthusiasm. But not right now."
While Kentucky wowed with its performance, Calipari tried to give the game perspective. He noted that the Cats fell behind Columbia 11-0 and trailed Columbia and Buffalo at halftime.
"They're not machines," he said of the UK players, "and they're not computers. They don't play great every time out."
How to beat UK?
When asked how Kentucky can be beaten, Alford said, "We tried zoning, and that didn't work. So we went man, and they're a very difficult team to man because they've got very good inside-out ...
"I would think if a team can come in with a lot of length and throw a zone out there that's got length and really gets them out of the paint to where they have to shoot jump shot after jump shot, OK. That might sound like a good game plan.
"But they rebound. For every two shots they take, they rebound one of them. It's just a hard team to play against."
Pitino's ears burning?
Not sure if Calipari was talking about Louisville and Coach Rick Pitino's signature full-court pressure. But he might have been.
"What we are, playing the way we're playing, is a high-energy team for 40 minutes," Calipari said. "But it's not helter-skelter. See, in my opinion, 40 minutes of helter-skelter doesn't teach the kids how to play to prepare them for that next (level) where they're trying to go."
Norman Powell needed 24 points to become the 51st UCLA player to reach 1,000 for his career. He made one of 13 shots and scored two points.