While there have been teams that have won a national title and gone undefeated in doing so, with Indiana being the last way back in 1976, none have ever managed to go 40-0. That mark is what lies ahead of the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, who moved to 34-0 on the season with a 78-63 win over No. 21 Arkansas in the SEC title game.
The title is Kentucky’s 28th SEC tournament title in program history, and one year after Florida managed to go 21-0 against SEC competition John Calipari’s team managed to duplicate that feat. And while the Razorbacks fought to become the first team to defeat Kentucky this season, like many teams before them Mike Anderson’s bunch found that resistance was futile against the Wildcats.
Kentucky never trailed on Sunday and they led by as many as 21 points, as they paired efficient offense with a level of play on the defensive end that made it difficult for Arkansas to establish much of anything themselves. Kentucky shot 51.0 percent from the field and 7-for-12 from beyond the arc, and 16 of the Wildcats’ 25 made field goals were assisted.
Aaron Harrison and Tyler Ulis tallied six assists apiece, and they were responsible for just two turnovers against the Arkansas pressure. Add in 15 points apiece from Willie Cauley-Stein (who also did a good job defensively on Arkansas’ Bobby Portis) and Andrew Harrison, and Kentucky finding a way to rebound more than half of its misses, and Arkansas was unable to pull off the upset despite outscoring Kentucky 34-32 in the paint.
Kentucky’s path to a possible ninth national title was known before the SEC tournament even tipped off on Wednesday from a geography standpoint, as they’ll start off in Louisville and then advance to Cleveland provided they win their first two games. But the ability to win championships, be it national or tournament, isn’t something to be taken lightly.
Faced with an opponent that beat them a season ago, Kentucky had all the motivation they needed to win yet another SEC title. As a result, the Wildcats are six wins away from achieving a feat that has never been seen in men’s Division I college basketball.