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Devin Booker tied a career high with 19 points in UK's 83-44 win over UCLA on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Devin Booker tied a career high with 19 points in UK's 83-44 win over UCLA on Saturday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
CHICAGO -- His team mired in a cold streak from outside, John Calipari asked a rhetorical question about what UK would do to its opponents if the Wildcats hit their 3s.

Anyone who didn't know the answer found out Saturday.

The Cats came out firing against UCLA, building a 16-0 lead and hitting two 3s before the second platoon even checked in. Once it did, Devin Booker hit two more 3s in a personal eight-point barrage that gave UK an insurmountable 24-0 lead.

From there, UK had to find a new opponent.

"We have to keep playing against (ourselves)," Booker said. "Coach always stresses to us that we're not playing against the other team, we're against ourselves."

Coach Cal, meanwhile, wasn't even bothering to look at the score as the No. 1 Cats raced to a 41-7 halftime advantage. He did sneak a peek or too after halftime though, which told him everything he needed to know about UK's 83-44 win over the Bruins (8-4).

"I didn't look at the score," Calipari said. "Like in the first half, I did not know what the score was. I knew it was pretty good, but I did not look -- to be honest, I couldn't find it in the arena."

UK fans, who accounted for the majority of the 19,726 fans in Chicago's United Center on Saturday afternoon, reveled in their team's 12th straight double-digit win to start the season, a school record. They cheered as the Cats smothered UCLA to the tune of 26.8-percent shooting and 0.618 points per possession. They applauded as UK hit 12 of 26 from 3-point range and exactly 50 percent from the field overall.

UCLA's Steve Alford, meanwhile, could do little but marvel at the group his friend Coach Cal has assembled.

"I don't know in my 20 years of coaching at the Division I level that I've coached against a better team than what this team looks like," Alford said. "They have everything."

Though he wasn't as quick to pump the brakes on the hype machine as he was after the last time UK demolished a fellow blue-blood program in a made-for-TV neutral-site showdown against Kansas last month, Coach Cal didn't join the chorus praising UK as a potential all-time team. Painting a masterpiece, after all, happens one brushstroke at a time.

"I'm day to day," Calipari said. "I'm in a grind and I'm staying in the moment. The one thing I'm doing is really enjoying these guys."

It isn't their dominance on the court that Calipari is enjoying so much either, at least not primarily. To him, it's all about the selflessness that's allowing it all to happen.

"We can all talk about defense and blocking shots and playing hard, but you've got 10 guys, 11 guys sharing minutes," Calipari said.

At point guard, you have Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ulis, who combined for 15 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

Aaron Harrison and Booker are splitting minutes at shooting guard, but that didn't stop them from accounting for 34 total points on eight made 3s.

Among UK's frontcourt players, no one among Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dakari Johnson or Trey Lyles had eye-popping numbers, but as a group they dominated.

"I think the story is how good are these kids, and how strong are these families and how trusting they are," Calipari said. "Willie said it after the Kansas game. He came in and said, we trust the coaches, and we trust each other. That's what this is. It's a group of kids that trust."

Relying on that trust, the Cats are accepting their coach's challenge to dream. That's why they never relented even as their lead ballooned to as large as 46 points.

"As we go forward, we've got one thing, how do we continue, let's make this world class," Calipari said. "How do we become that world-class team, and it's real simple. One, you have few errors and you have no unforced errors. That's what a world-class team is about. The second thing a world-class team is about, they absolutely enjoy, even the tough times. They enjoy playing."

As much as they enjoy playing, the Cats couldn't help but look forward to a four-day break for the holidays that would follow the UCLA game. UCLA, as it turns out, was the only thing standing between the Cats and home.

"Everyone is excited," Booker said. "We're all excited to go home, and we knew we had to go through this first game and it wasn't going to be easy, but we just brought energy to the floor, and that's what put it over the top."

But after that break, it's back to business for Kentucky. Even with a trip to Louisville looming on Saturday, that means the Cats will be playing themselves more than the archrival Cardinals.

"You know, we're trying to build something here to say, you're going out, playing against yourself, and you hear these kids talking about it," Calipari said. "World-class teams play against themselves; they don't play against the opponent."

Video: Ulis, Booker on UK's 83-44 win over UCLA

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Video: Coach Cal on UK's dominant win over UCLA

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This video, guaranteed to get you ready for UCLA

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Video: Mitchell previews UK Hoops' trip to Duke

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Big test awaits UK Hoops at Duke

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Matthew Mitchell, with a week to prepare, has watched his share of tape on Duke.

He's come to a clear conclusion.

"We have quite a mountain to climb literally and figuratively," Mitchell said, not quite able to suppress a smile at the turn of phrase.

The Blue Devils you see, are likely the biggest team UK will face all season. The No. 8 Wildcats (10-1) have two players on their roster standing 6-foot-3. No. 13 Duke (6-3) has two such players as well, but also four coming in at 6-4 and another standing 6-5 with Kentucky coming to Cameron Indoor Stadium at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday for a showdown televised on ESPN2.

"The biggest team in Duke history is what they're saying," Mitchell said. "They just have massive size, so it will be a very interesting game. We are not the biggest Kentucky team history, but we do have some speed and quickness so we will have to try and see which style will win out."

More often than not, UK's style has been the one to get the better of its opponents this season.

The Cats already boast a pair of top-10 wins over Baylor and Louisville, both coming after double-digit comebacks. In the two games, UK overcame any deficits in size with that speed and quickness, but Duke is at another level in the post.

Duke, playing one of the nation's toughest schedules, is outrebounding opponents by 22.1 per game. Elizabeth Williams is one of five players averaging 4.8 or more rebounds per game, posting 11 to go with her 14.4 points per game.

UK's post players will be in for a challenge, particularly first-year contributors Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, Alyssa Rice and Alex Jennings. The trio, along with Azia Bishop, has improved of late thanks to a lot of work.

"We had a good session after practice (Wednesday) with just Alyssa, Azia, (assistant) Coach (Adeniyi) Amadou and myself were just down there for about a half-hour after practice and there was some really good stuff happening," Mitchell said. "You just want to see it show up on the court at some point in time, and I think it will."

But just as importantly, Mitchell needs his perimeter players to set the tone with ball pressure. If they don't, all that work on the part of the post players likely won't matter much.

"We're really going to have to play with tremendous intensity on the perimeter because they're just so big," Mitchell said. "I mean, really, if you give them any chance at all, they'll just lob it up to (Azura) Stevens or Williams and it's almost like a jump ball. So who can jump the highest? They're probably going to jump higher than us. The guards are critical for us defensively in this game for us and without Bria, it's a big challenge."

Mitchell, of course, is referring to the absence of Bria Goss. The senior guard and UK's top defensive player will miss four to six weeks with a broken thumb suffered on Sunday before a win over Belmont. The injury will force the Cats to adjust on a couple fronts.

First, UK's smaller lineup is less of an option with Goss out.

"In some of the tight games that we've been in, I've sort of bailed them out by putting Makayla (Epps) at the four and I think for us long term in a game like this, we're probably going to have to have some size on the floor as you look at some of the bigger teams in the SEC, it's going to be necessary for our young post players to come along and contribute this season," Mitchell said. "It's a big test for them, on the road, at Duke, against a really big front line and so I think they're getting better."

And of course, someone will need to fill Goss' defensive void. Mitchell mentioned Jennifer O'Neill, Janee Thompson and Makayla Epps as candidates.

"Well, it's another great opportunity," Mitchell said. "Who is really going to step up and be a defensive stopper now? Who is going to step up?"

If someone does, the Cats could benefit in the long term.

"I think that you have to find the silver lining in these kinds of things," Mitchell said. "You must. And really, if we respond correctly, maybe we can be stronger in a month when Bria comes back and I told Bria it could be something greater for you. Maybe this gets us deeper into the tournament and makes us stronger."

Video: Coach Cal's pre-UCLA press conference

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Video: UK football's biggest moments in 2014

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Video: UK football game day 2014

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Recent Comments

  • joel alberto luna colon: I agree with you, UK has not only the talent, but some experience. They could go undefeated if they want read more
  • Berdj Rassam: This was expected to be an easy win for UK. read more
  • dannyone: if the cat,s play like that in every game as they should they could go all the what I,m read more
  • Dale Sine: Coach Cal at it again. He is the best coach in America and the only coach that could handle coaching read more
  • Mike J.: Cal is the best coach out there. He returned Memphis to national prominence and stayed 9 years, a helluva lot read more
  • Berdj Rassam: Booker will be a key part of whether or not this team will be successful this season. read more
  • Tom Moore: Since Tubby 98 and 2003-2004 team which should've won it all, Kentucky fans ( I am true blue ) have read more
  • John Mylant: Kentucky verses Kansas I am a UK fan but bringing this into perspective, this was just one of those games. read more
  • Catherine: We have the Blue Platoon and the White Platoon, I say we should name the rest team "The Closers"! read more
  • Sandy: Great game. I couldn't take my eyes off in the second half. Proud of all of you. I thought Epps read more