UCLA stuns Kentucky

Second time this season a new Number 1 team will be announced

SONG SELECTION:

“Why Would I Now?”, by The Decemberists

Can be found on the Florasongs EP, released November 27, 2015 from Capitol Records

“They will play the greatest game in the history of games, because they’re playing us.”

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari speaking with reporters after the game

Anemic three-point shooting did in the Wildcats on Thursday night at famed Pauley Pavilion in front of a raucous crowd and a giddy ESPN audience.  This all happened way before Aaron Rodgers threw that Hail Mary pass in Detroit to stun the Lions where most of the nation was watching on CBS.

The final score was 87-77, a way different ending than the simple embarrassment that the Bruins suffered during the inaugural CBS Sports Classic in 2014 at the United Center in Chicago.  As one might recall very briefly, UK stormed out to a 41-7 lead at halftime.  Call out the football players, everybody thought at that point.  Others decided to join the masses at the famed State Street Macy’s and other shops to continue their holiday shopping.

But this time around, UCLA pounded Kentucky inside like few teams would ever dare doing.  The Bruins scored nine points on their first four possessions.  By the time that Prince Ali went airborne from just outside the restricted line, the lead grew to 61-47.  Thomas Welsh led the charge with 21 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.  The coach’s son Bryce, along with Isaac Hamilton chipped in with 15 points apiece.

This upset win did two things in general IMHO:

First, UCLA is definitely back in the NCAA Tournament picture…for now.  If Steve Alford can help clear up any defensive inefficiencies and/or silly turnovers, a new chapter in Westwood could happen inside the legendary gym where John Wooden worked his magic over four decades ago.

For Kentucky, it snapped a 38 game winning streak against non-conference opponents while being the top ranked team in the country.  They are tied for sixth with the John Lucas led Ohio State Buckeyes when they compiled their streak from 1960 through 1962.

The record holders, you guessed it–UCLA who did it twice.

The current streak which spanned 86 games lasted during the Bill Walton era from 1970 to 1974, while the Gail Goodrich/Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) era where no freshman played on the varsity compiled the original record from 1965 through 1969.  Those teams turned the trick 68 straight times.

Suddenly, Michigan State is back into the fold.  More on that in my brief (albeit a bit late) holiday tournament review blog.

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