Kentucky gave its three-guard lineup a test drive Monday night. It was a sweet ride as UK routed Ottawa 117-58 in a predictably lopsided exhibition game.
Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe form a mutual admiration society, as evidenced by the trio combining for 22 of UK's 32 assists. They were also a mutual annihilation society this night.
Like Kate Upton with American Pharoah at the Breeders' Cup, Murray flirted with a triple-double. As UK fans know, the only triple-double in UK history was accomplished by a freshman, Chris Mills, who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Austin Peay in 1988-89.
Murray exited with 3:34 left and UK ahead 106-55. He had 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
"No, I wasn't aware of that during the game," he said. "But I figured it out after the game I was one assist shy."
While downplaying his brush with history, even if only in an exhibition game, Murray suggested a triple-double or two might happen this season.
"I think everybody is going to have their day," he said. "Whether points, assists, rebounds, it doesn't matter. Steals. Everybody is going to have a day where they're just locked in. And that's that. There is a lot of opportunities."
Ulis had a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists, the latter made more impressive by his turnover total: zero.
"He's very (much) in command," Murray said of Ulis. "He's a leader on the court. ... We look to him to run the offense and play off that."
Briscoe had 11 points and three assists. He also was the recipient of a king-sized label from UK Coach John Calipari: A contender for best defender in the country.
"I believe him," Briscoe said. "He's got a lot of trust in me as a defender. I take on the challenge."
Earlier this preseason, Calipari said his team probably would look "ugly" at times in November and December. This game was not one of those times.
Although the lopsided score invited flights of fancy, the Cats mostly stuck to business. UK shot well, shared the ball and competed.
In the movies, Ottawa's coach would have made it more competitive by saying something inspirational or putting flubber on the soles of his team's shoes.
Aaron Siebenthall settled for something straight out of the movie Hoosiers.
"We're playing this game for all the small college guys that had aspirations to play at this level," he said. " ... Guys out there that just play hard all the time and love the game of basketball."
Since Ottawa lost its opening game Saturday to a school named Baker, Siebenthall knew his team would be beaten by a big margin.
"Right now, I feel like I'm back in college and I just took a really, really hard test. I didn't do too well, but it's over with."
Kentucky wasted no time putting its superiority on Ottawa's neck. The Cats made their first five shots en route to a 13-0 lead barely two minutes into the game.
Ottawa called timeout 39 seconds after the tip-off. It didn't help. Twelve minutes into the game, UK had missed only two shots, the same number Ottawa had made.
Kentucky's third "miss" actually went in the hoop. Basket interference by Alex Poythress nullified a basket by Skal Labissiere.
UK got great mileage out of the three-guard lineup that started the game. Murray (17) and Ulis (14) combined for 31 points in the first half.
Although dependent on freshmen, Kentucky did not indulge the opportunity to score style points. Late in the half, Murray passed up the chance to dunk in order to toss an underhanded lob for Labissiere to jam.
Derek Willis had a memorable sequence, coming over as a help defender to block a perimeter shot, then running downcourt to finish a fast-break layup.
The second half brought more of the same. Poythress did the honor of pushing Kentucky to the century mark. His putback with 5:12 left extended the lead to 101-50.
When it was over, UK fans could think of further destruction of future opponents led by the three guards. Briscoe said as much.
"It can come from anybody," he said. "Me. Tyler. Skal. Jamal, like you saw tonight.
"That's what makes us (pause) so dangerous."
Kansas to Kentucky
Coaching his team at Kentucky wasn't Siebenthall's first brush with a basketball blue blood. He was an aspiring coach when he attended the University of Kansas. Toward that end, he intended to play for the Kansas junior varsity.
When Kansas ended its jayvee program, Siebenthall improvised.
"I was a practice player for the KU women's team," he said. "I got paid to play basketball in Allen Fieldhouse every day, and had a good experience doing that. It let me see the behind-the-scenes and the scouting and the Xs-and-Os of the whole thing."
Like Kentucky, Kansas could use Monday's announcement of The Associated Press college basketball poll to burnish its status as a dynasty. The Jayhawks were in the top five for the third straight year, and were in the top seven for the 18th time since 1992-93.