Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
After Blowout Loss, UCLA’s Alford Says Kentucky Could Run the Table
By CHRIS RUSSELL
In a clash between two of the most storied college basketball programs in the nation, No. 1 Kentucky obliterated UCLA, 83-44, in the CBS Sports Classic to remain undefeated on the season.
The Wildcats are now 12-0 and have won every game by double-digits.
If anybody knows what it’s like to coach an undefeated team, it’s Bruins coach Steve Alford.
Alford, who coached Division III Manchester University from 1991-95, led his 1994-95 squad to a 31-0 record and into the championship game before suffering its first loss to Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin-Platteville squad.
“I don’t know in my 20 years coaching [the] Division I level that I’ve coached against a better team than what this team looks like,” Alford said after the blowout loss.
When asked what it will take to beat Kentucky, Alford waved his hands in the air.
“There’s not a weakness,” he said. “They’re a hard team to man, and we tried zoning and that didn’t work.”
Next up for Kentucky is a matchup against crosstown rival No. 4 Louisville at the KFC Yum Center on Dec. 27. Louisville also improved to 12-0 on Saturday despite losing big man Montrezl Harrell when he was ejected after a Flagrant foul 2.
On paper, the Cards possess the best chance to defeat the Cats. Should Kentucky take care of business against their instate rival, a loss could be hard to imagine.
“This reaches 18, 19, 20 [wins] in a row, you may not get ‘em, because I think they might get really hungry and think they can get it,” said Alford.
Kentucky took control of the game from the start and went into the half with a 41-7 lead. That is the lowest that Kentucky has held an opponent in a half since 1943.
Freshman guard Devin Booker led the Cats with 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting and 5-for-6 from behind the arc. The Wildcats shot 50 percent for the game and 58 percent from 3-point distance.
Kentucky has made an assertive effort all season long to dominate their opponents on the defensive side of the ball.
“They continue to play at that level defensively, I’m a firm believer they’ve got a chance to run this thing out,” said Alford.
Kentucky is looking to be the first team to finish the season undefeated, a mark that has not been accomplished since Bob Knight’s Indiana team went 32-0 in 1976.
With the offense clicking on all cylinders and a smothering defense creating turnovers, there wasn’t much that Kentucky coach John Calipari could argue about
“I’m staying in the moment,” he said. “I’m enjoying this team. We’re going to let this play out. As we go forward, we’ve got one thing: How do we continue? Let’s make this world class. How do we become that world-class team?”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.