Kentucky gets top-5 matchup after Christmas
Dec. 23, 2014
Top-ranked Kentucky has passed every test so far with relative ease.
The Wildcats (12-0), again the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP Top 25, have won their games by an NCAA-best average margin of 29.1 points. The latest was that 83-44 romp over UCLA when Kentucky scored the first 24 points and led 41-7 at halftime.
While there is a lighter slate of games than usual this week because of Christmas, Kentucky's final non-conference game provides a top-five showdown of instate rivals. The Wildcats play Saturday at No. 4 Louisville (10-0), which has a tune-up game Tuesday night at home against Cal State Northridge.
"I'm in a grind and I'm staying in the moment," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "The one thing I'm doing is really enjoying these guys. We can all talk about defense and blocking shots and playing hard, but you've got 10 guys, 11 guys sharing minutes. You have two point guards that are two of the best point guards in the country, both of them, and sharing minutes. You have big guys sharing minutes."
Kentucky has won six of the last seven games against the Cardinals and coach Rick Pitino, who won the 1996 national championship with the Wildcats but has been at Louisville since 2001.
CHRISTMAS IN HAWAII: No. 11 Wichita State is the only Top 25 team playing on Christmas Day — or on the days before and after the holiday. At least the Shockers get to spend that time in Hawaii.
The Shockers opened play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamondhead Classic on Monday night, then have another game in Honolulu on Tuesday. There is no game on Christmas Eve before finishing that tournament on Christmas Day.
LONG BREAKS: Most of the Top 25 teams are getting extended breaks for Christmas.
There are only 10 games involving ranked teams the weekend after Christmas, including the Kentucky-Louisville game that is the only matchup of Top 25 teams all week.
No. 2 Duke, No. 5 Virginia and No. 12 Iowa State don't play at all this week.
Ten teams played games Monday or Tuesday, before getting the rest of the week off. Only six teams have games before and after Christmas this week.
WINNING RANKED: Three of the four newcomers in this week's Top 25 played Monday night. All won.
The tightest of those games was No. 22 Baylor (10-1), which needed to make 11 of its last 12 free throws while not making a field goal in the final six minutes of a 70-66 win over Southern University.
No. 24 Colorado State (12-0) beat Charleston Southern 75-54, while No. 25 TCU (12-0) rolled past Grambling State 80-36.
It was the only game this week for Baylor and TCU, whose poll debuts gave the Big 12 seven ranked teams.
The next game for No. 23 Northern Iowa (10-1) is Sunday against South Dakota State. But, unlike that other trio, the Panthers were previously ranked this season.