In his own way, Karl-Anthony Towns can point to Kentucky's 70-55 victory over Alabama on Saturday night as a sign of his consistency.
Towns' performance mirrored the dominant start-dormant finish he had at Missouri 48 hours earlier.
"This was worse," the ever-demanding UK Coach John Calipari said. "He was way better in the first half, and even worse in the second half. ... I just told him, 'I don't know what you're saying to yourself at halftime, but you better change."
Towns got the victory off to a good start and signaled that he could have a big night.
On UK's first two possessions, Towns scored on post-up moves. Both times he scored against Alabama's best interior defender, Jimmie Taylor, whose 37 blocks more than tripled the total of the Tide's second-most prolific rejector.
Towns turned into the lane and scored on a soft flip. Then on the next trip downcourt, he lost Taylor by turning to the baseline and hitting a short jumper.
Towns, who had been the target of a mild Calipari reprimand at Missouri ("started fading away"), scored 12 of UK's first 24 points.
"He was so good," Calipari said. "He looked like the best big man in the country in the first half. That's what I think he can do. The only issue: no rebounds."
Towns, who grabbed one rebound in the game, had no explanation. "I don't even know, either," he said. "I guess we might have been doing something right. We made a lot of shots. There wasn't a lot (of rebounds) to get."
Good point. UK shot a season-high 58.5 percent and committed only five turnovers in shredding a proud Alabama defense that came into the game ranked second among Southeastern Conference teams in points surrendered, fourth in field-goal defense and first in opponents' three-point accuracy.
"If he clipped off three or four or five rebounds, it would have been, like, wow," Calipari said. "But he's a young kid. That's the kind of stuff he does. That shows you how good he can be."
Although Towns had not scored double-digit points in the previous four games, he did not try to maximize his opportunities. Later in the first half, he caught a fast-break pass and with one motion delivered a lob that Willie Cauley-Stein dunked.
Those kind of plays helped Kentucky lead by as much as 18 points before settling for a 37-24 halftime advantage.
Unfortunately for Towns, basketball protocol required a second half.
After Alabama shot nothing but three-pointers in the second half's opening five-plus minutes, Towns lost sight of Michael Kessens, who cut for a layup. Dakari Johnson immediately reported to the scorer's table.
"Stood straight up," Calipari said of Towns' lapse. "All of a sudden, you get screened. 'Oh my gosh.' By then, the guy is shooting a layup. By then, Dakari's at the scorer's table."
Towns credited Alabama for "a great screen," and acknowledged that the defense could have been better.
"Just miscommunication," he said while insisting that the play was "not a big deal."
Towns' uneven second half continued when he picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with 10:45 left. He fouled out with 7:22 left, meaning he picked up three fouls in three minutes during his scoreless second half.
"This should have been a 25 and eight night for him," Calipari said, meaning points and rebounds.
When asked about Calipari's comment about an unrealized "25-and-eight night," Towns smiled and said softly, "I'm just glad it ended with us getting a 'W.'"
Although not scoring in the game's final 28 minutes, Towns led Kentucky with 12 points. Cauley-Stein, who rebounded from recent poor performances, also scored 12.
Kentucky, which improved to 21-0 overall and 8-0 in the SEC, impressed Alabama Coach Anthony Grant with its depth of size, starting with Towns and by no means ending there.
"Kind of wears on you a little bit," Grant said.
Alabama (13-8, 3-5) became yet another UK opponent that struggled to score. The Tide made only three baskets in the game's first 14 minutes and finished the first half having made eight of 18.
Afterward, Towns acknowledged that the college game had been a greater challenge than he anticipated.
"Definitely," he said.
Towns has not one but two standards to judge the college game. Not only was he a McDonald's All-American as a high school player, he also played internationally for the Dominican Republic National Team.
Towns described college basketball as a "different way of playing," seemingly meaning more tightly officiated than the international game. He called the adjustment to committing fewer fouls "a big-time step" he must take.