Recap: Kentucky 83, UCLA 44

Kentucky reveled in the spirit of holiday giving Saturday in the inaugural CBS Sports Classic.

A beating with a Big Blue bow.

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The top-ranked Wildcats improved to 12-0 on the season with a dominating 83-44 victory over UCLA at Chicago's United Center in a matchup between the two programs with the most championships in NCAA history.

Kentucky’s suffocating defense held the Bruins to 3-for-37 shooting in the first half in building a 41-7 lead at the break. It marked the lowest halftime score by a UK opponent since 1943.

"This game, the way we started, we haven't always done that," said UK coach John Calipari, whose team led 24-0 before UCLA's first basket at the 12:17 mark.

"That's our good game, right there. That's as good as we go."

UK shot 50 percent from the floor and recorded assists on 25 of its 32 field goals. Sophomore point guard Andrew Harrison led the dish parade with 8 assists, while freshman guard Tyler Ulis and sophomore center Dakari Johnson each recorded six.

The Cats got 19 points from freshman guard Devin Booker and 15 from sophomore guard Aaron Harrison. The duo combined to hit eight of their 14 attempts from beyond the arc.

Isaac Hamilton led UCLA (8-4) with 14 points. The Bruins' leading scorer on the season, Bryce Alford, was held to five under his average of 18 points per game.

Kentucky held UCLA to 26.8 percent (19 of 71) on the day, forced 15 turnovers and blocked 13 shots. The Bruins entered the game as one of the NCAA's top scoring teams at 80.8 points per game.

"If they continue to play at that level defensively, I’m a firm beleiver they've got a chance to run this thing out," UCLA coach Steve Alford said.

Kentucky has won each of its first 12 games by double figures for the first time in the program's storied history. The Cats improved to 7-4 all-time against the Bruins, who have won 11 NCAA titles to eight for UK. The teams will begin a two-year home-and-home series beginning next year with the Big Blue making its first trip to Pauley Pavilion and the Bruins playing for the first time in Rupp Arena the following year.

In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highs and lows:

WHAT WE LIKED: Not that it should ever happen when the opponent walks in with “UCLA” across its chest, but Kentucky did not get caught looking ahead to next week’s Bluegrass showdown against arch-rival Louisville. The Cats came into the United Center with the focused killer instinct worthy of the guy who has a statue standing in his honor just outside the main entrance.

KEY MOMENT: Tipoff? Aaron Harrison buried a 3, and the Cats were off and running. UCLA coach Steve Alford had to burn three timeouts in the game’s first 7:22 in an effort to slow down the onslaught.

STAT OF THE DAY: Kentucky has now defeated fellow college basketball bluebloods Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA by a combined 85 points this season.

QUOTABLE: "We can all talk about defense and blocking shots and playing hard, but you've got 10 or 11 guys sharing minutes, You've got two points guards who are two of the best point guards in the country, both of 'em, sharing mintues. You've got big guys, Karl Towns and Dakari Johnson, sharing minutes. You've got Willie (Cauley-Stein), one of the best big guys in the country, sharing minutes with Marcus Lee. You got Aaron Harrison, who's really good, and you've got Devin (Booker) sharing minutes. That's the story." -- UK coach John Calipari.

UP NEXT: It’s a big one. Kentucky returns to action next Saturday, Dec. 27, against No. 4 Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals improved to 10-0 today with a 76-67 win at Western Kentucky in a game that featured the ejection of UofL star Montrezl Harrell in the first half for throwing a punch at a Hilltopper player.

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