In rolling to a 111-76 win over UT Martin at Rupp Arena, the Wildcats have opened the season with six consecutive victories by 21 points or greater for the first time since the 1947-48 national champions -- aka "The Fabulous Five" -- accomplished the feat.
"This may be the Fabulous Nine," UK head coach John Calipari joked when told of the achievement.
Indeed, these Cats are getting impressive production from a remarkably deep roster. In their latest romp, they got a career-high 26 points and seven assists from freshman guard Malik Monk to lead six players in double-figure scoring. Freshman guard De'Aaron Fox followed with 16 points, while freshman forwards Bam Adebayo and Wenyen Gabriel each tallied 15. Senior guard Mychal Mulder and freshman forward Sacha Killeya-Jones each chipped in with 12.
Kentucky (6-0) played its second game without sophomore leader Isaiah Briscoe, but the guard's backup, senior Dominique Hawkins, produced six points, four rebounds and nine assists.
"Played a really good team tonight, great team. The No. 1 team in the country for a reason," UT Martin coach Anthony Stewart said. "We definitely saw that tonight first hand, up front and personal, and my hat’s off to Coach Cal and his team and his staff. First-class organization. Those kids played very hard. They played together and that’s what we strive to reach with our program."
The Cats, out-rebounded in their first two games of the season -- perhaps the lone chink in the armor they have displayed to date -- dominated the glass against the Skyhawks. Adebayo recorded a double-double with a career-high 12 rebounds to lead UK's 48-26 advantage on the night.
UT Martin (5-2) was led by guards Matthew Butler and Jacolby Mobley with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
In this All Wildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some highlights from UK's victory...
WHAT WE LIKED:
Kentucky eclipsed the 100-point plateau in back to back games for the first time since the 1993 season. It almost certainly will not be the last time as the Cats are averaging a robust 92.3 points per game to open the season. Playing a second consecutive game without Briscoe was not an issue; neither was losing senior wing Derek Willis to a sprained thumb early in the second half. This UK team seemingly has enough options to weather adversity that most programs could not. Kentucky was good in just about every category on this night, shooting 55.4 percent from the field, holding a plus-22 in rebounds, dishing out 24 assists and committing only 12 turnovers while playing at a breakneck pace. "They got our best today," Calipari said of the visiting Skyhawks.
Malik Monk, Kentucky -- The freshman guard from Arkansas set a new career high in scoring for the third time in 11 days. At one stretch in the second half, he scored 12 points in a 1:54 span that included a pair of highlight reel dunks. "So, right now the way he’s playing, it’s pick your poison," said UT Martin's Stewart. "If you play back, he’s hitting the open shot, he’s making 3s, his midrange is really good, he’s making free throws, and obviously he can really get to the bucket. So, you have to pick something you want to take away right now when you’re guarding Monk.”
BY THE NUMBERS:
3 - Consecutive games in which Mulder has hit at least three treys for UK.
15 - Kentucky's halftime lead, 53-38.
21-2 - Second-half run by UK which featured Monk's scoring flurry to put the game away.
48 - The Cats' biggest lead of the night, 99-51.
8:16 - Time remaining when Kentucky passed the century mark on a Killeya-Jones bucket.
111 - Most points for UK since a 115-87 win over Tennessee State on Dec. 30, 2002.
"I was just telling my guys in the locker room, I was really impressed with their attitudes and their unselfishness. Generally, when you have teams that talented with those kind of accolades, a lot of times they’ll have egos, attitudes or whatnot. I didn’t see any of that. They were making the extra pass. They were being very unselfish. They were playing for each other. Their bench was up clapping. Guys come out of the game, they were encouraging each other. That was awesome. I just got done telling my guys in the locker room, I was very impressed with that." -- UT Martin coach Anthony Stewart on what he admires the most about UK's team.
Kentucky returns to action Monday against Arizona State in the Bahamas. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.