UK Athletics/Chet White

Where did Kentucky Wildcats' 115-69 win over Arizona State rank in Calipari Era?

Kentucky's awe-inspiring performance in a 115-69 romp over Arizona State on Monday night in the Bahamas left Big Blue Nation with a burning question: Where did the No. 1 Wildcats' performance rank among some of the best outings in the John Calipari Era? 

In this edition of All Wildcats' "Three-Point Arc," we take a look at the Cats' latest masterpiece in comparison to three other memorable efforts since Coach Cal arrived in Lexington for the 2009-10 season.

Consider these factors in favor of Monday's thrashing of the Sun Devils... 

  • 115 points were the most scored by a Calipari team at UK.
  • 58 points in the first half were tied for third.
  • 44 field goals were tied for second.
  • 33 assists were a new high.
  • 59 rebounds tied for first.
  • 46-point margin of victory was tied for seventh, but the second-largest versus a Power 5 opponent.
  • De'Aaron Fox's triple-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assits) was only the second in program history and the first since 1988.
  • Six UK players reached double-figure scoring with two, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe, topping 20. 

Other wins may have had a single facet (or two) that was more impressive than this November triumph, and some are more significant due to the opponent's ranking or high stakes in tournament settings, but it's hard to make a case that the Cats have put together a more complete performance than this one.

Here are the top three other contenders from my viewpoint:

1. Kentucky 83, UCLA 44 - 2014 CBS Sports Classic

On cold December night in Chicago, the Cats delivered arguably the most impressive half of basketball in school history, racing to a 41-7 lead over the tradition-rich Bruins. Kentucky opened the game with a 24-0 run. UCLA missed its first 17 shots from the field and didn't score until the 12:21 mark in the first half. The Cats held the Bruins to 26.8 percent shooting on the night and blocked 13 shots, including four apiece by Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson. UK shot 50 percent from the field, knocked down a dozen 3-pointers and dished out 25 assists. And get this: the Cats beat a blue blood opponent by 39 with eventual No. 1 NBA Draft choice Karl-Anthony Towns scoring only four points. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i989jnZY2WY

2. Kentucky 72, Kansas 40 - 2014 Champions Classic

En route to an undefeated regular season, the No. 1 Cats flexed their muscles in a November clash with the No. 5 Jayhawks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. That's what makes this one so impressive compared to other games up for consideration. This was no run-of-the-mill opponent. Kentucky overwhelmed Bill Self's squad with its long, athletic defense, holding the Jayhawks to 19.6 percent shooting from the field. The Cats blocked 11 shots, led by four apiece from Towns and Marcus Lee. Kansas managed only 12 points in the second half. Using the "platoon" system to maximize its depth, UK won by 32 points with its team-high coming from Johnson with a modest 11. The only real blemish on this one is the Cats' 43-percent shooting from the field, but they compensated for that by committing only six turnovers. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97xpkAId-wI

3. Kentucky 102, Indiana 90 - 2012 NCAA Sweet 16

The Cats' march to the eighth national championship in school history included a memorable clash with the border rival Hoosiers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. While the margin of victory may not stand out in this one, it should be noted that IU was one of only two teams to beat the eventual champs that season. Kentucky avenged a heart-breaking loss to the Hoosiers, who won on Christian Watford's last-second 3-pointer on Dec. 10 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Watford was huge again in the rematch, going for a game-high 27 points, but the Cats countered it with some great performances of their own. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may have had his best game during his one season at UK, scoring 24 points and grabing 10 rebounds. Doron Lamb pumped in 21 points despite taking only one 3-pointer. Anthony Davis had nine points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Darius Miller scored 19 points off the bench. And the most memorable stat from this game? The Cats sank 35 of 37 free throws, going 95 percent at the line under extreme pressure. Bottom line: You have to include a game from the 2012 champs on this list, and this one is the best overall team performance. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdPFVY33y2A


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