John Calipari's deep Kentucky Wildcats team cruised to more than another runaway victory in its exhibition finale Sunday night against perennial NAIA power Georgetown College. The preseason No. 1 thoroughly won over another admirer in the process.
"Those guys are unreal," Georgetown coach Chris Briggs told reporters after the Wildcats dismantled the Tigers 121-52 at Rupp Arena. "I told the guys in the locker room, [the Wildcats] could have beaten some NBA teams tonight, there's no question in my mind."
Some NBA teams? Really?
"I knew they were good coming into this game, but sitting out there watching it on the sideline, honestly I don't see how they're going to get beat this year," said Briggs, whose team saw Kentucky shoot 64 percent from the field and record assists on 32 of its 46 baskets. "I don't like to say that, because I know people have off nights, and things can happen and this and that, and injuries and things like that, but if they play like they did tonight, they're an NBA playoff team."
Calipari, of course, has been here before. The Wildcats joined UCLA (1966-60, 1971-74), UNLV (1990-91) and North Carolina (2008-09) as the only programs to be named preseason No. 1 in consecutive seasons since the AP preseason poll started in 1961-62. And this season's team is so balanced that Calipari is experimenting with using two five-player platoons.
He's also no stranger to attempting to tamp down expectations, and he was quick to take to Twitter to throw water on Briggs' enthusiasm.
I hear Coach Briggs got excited after the game last night. Let me be clear: If we played ANY NBA team, we would get buried. ANY.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) November 10, 2014
"Coach, did you do that to me?" Calipari said Sunday. "So he also said we're going to have 40 wins and win by 25, right?
"No, this will be a process. We're going to hit some bumps in the road."
Briggs' talk was reminiscent of the hype that former Sacred Heart coach Dave Bike bestowed upon eventual champion UConn after a loss to the Huskies early in the 2003-04 season. Lauding a team that in Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon would have two of the top three players chosen in the 2004 NBA draft, Bike quipped, "I said before the game I really thought that the winner had a chance for the national championship, and I still believe that."
Briggs' prediction is bolder, but it also comes with no apparent tongue-in-cheek involved.
"I don't know what to tell you," said Briggs, whose team won the 2013 NAIA national title. "We did everything we could. We went zone, we tried man, we tried trapping the post. We tried it all. It's going to take an extremely off night and an extremely great night out of somebody who has big-time NBA talent as well to get those guys."