It's not March Madness, but Kentucky basketball treated us to the college hoops version of Christmas in July August today.
With ESPNU's cameras rolling, Big Blue Nation throttled Champagne Chalons-Reims 81-58. A slow start preceded a strong finish, and all the while analysts and fans took to Twitter to share their thoughts.
Within lie the three key themes of that social media chatter.
Tyler Ulis and Karl Towns Can Play
They haven't played against their peers yet, but Tyler Ulis and Karl-Anthony Towns were impressive in their second game against professional competition.
During Kentucky's sluggish start offensively, Ulis in particular caught the eyes of ESPN's Jeff Goodman and College Basketball Talk's Rob Dauster.
Tyler Ulis just makes his teammates better.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) August 11, 2014
@GoodmanESPN Yup. Offense just looks so much smoother with him on the floor. And that's saying nothing of his defensive ability.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) August 11, 2014
I've said it before, but John Calipari is going to have a hard time keeping Tyler Ulis out of the lineup this season.— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) August 11, 2014
That's not to devalue the Harrison twins, but Ulis adds a new element to the Wildcats: the ability to probe and break down a defense with his handles, court vision and passing skills.
His stats weren't eye-popping today—just six points, three assists and two turnovers—but he gave Kentucky a much-needed boost off the bench.
How long the Wildcats can thrive with their best floor general as a bench player remains to be seen, as Dauster alluded. Ulis could potentially coexist with both Harrisons simultaneously, but odds are one twin will have to take a back seat.
As for Towns, the 6'11" freshman displayed his own high basketball IQ with a few nifty post moves and passes. He was the star of the box score with 19 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Towns: impressive as hell.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) August 11, 2014
Oh, and he was trending on Twitter.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Champagne Chalons-Reims is a professional team in France's A division, but former college stars Da'Sean Butler and Tasmin Mitchell are Chalons-Reims' best players.
Kentucky trailed by eight points 12 minutes into the game, spurring speculation as to how the Wildcats would fare against an NBA team.
I hope this UK v Chalons-Reims game ends any debate on UK or ANY college hoops team competing against an NBA squad— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) August 11, 2014
Chalon-Reims has some very good players, but isn't close to an NBA team, and UK is in a dog fight— Brian Snow (@BSnowScout) August 11, 2014
Goodman and CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello love to joke around with each other on Twitter, so don't take Goodman's accusation too seriously. Borzello retaliated with a good comeback: Before we talk about the Wildcats beating a NBA team, let's see them pitted against a squad of players who were either already signed by a summer league team or drafted.
Sure, Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles were not available today, and the Wildcats still won by 23 points. But let's avoid the "Kentucky could beat the 76ers talk" for a bit.
Philadelphia has about 100 more NBA players than Chalons-Reims and the Puerto Rican team Kentucky routed Sunday combined.
John Calipari cannot complain about life right now.
With associate head coach Kenny Payne running the show today, Calipari watched and took notes from the sideline. But he took a brief break from taking a break to assist ESPNU's team.
John Calipari: ESPN camera man. pic.twitter.com/q7uu05pQIq— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) August 11, 2014
Now coach cal can add camera man to his resume lol!! #BBN— Brittany Hood (@wildcatgirl1990) August 11, 2014
You know life is good when your team beats a professional squad by 23 in August and you can simultaneously pick up a new hobby.