Calipari a part of history

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach John Calipari reached a milestone when the Wildcats played their best game of the season.

Kevin Knox scored a career-high 25 points to lead No. 8 Kentucky to a 107-73 victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago on Sunday night to conclude play in the Adolph Rupp Classic.

The win gave Calipari his 700th career victory, three years after he notched his 600th. He is the 39th coach to reach the milestone. This squad, his ninth at Kentucky (6-1), starts an all-freshman cast and struggled in wins over Utah Valley State and Vermont before finally putting together a complete effort against the Flames.

“I feel we are getting better,” Calipari said. “We’re trending the right way and now we have to sustain it. … This was the closest to a 40-minute basketball game (we have played) this year.”

Knox led seven Kentucky players in double figures in one of the team’s best offensive showings of the season. Hamidou Diallo had a career-best 19 points, PJ Washington added 17 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 14.

Knox got most of his scoring in the post and missed just four attempts, all from long range. Knox said improving his inside game has been a point of emphasis in practice during the Thanksgiving break.

“That’s something we worked in practice prior to this game,” he said. “They really couldn’t guard us in the post and that’s something we took advantage of.”

More than a month into his first season with the Wildcats, Knox is getting more adjusted to the team’s offensive scheme.

“I’m starting to feel more comfortable with my teammates and we’re all kind of clicking,” he said. “This was one of our best games of the season and we all just clicked. We were all making shots and played together as a team and we’re starting to figure everyone out.”

The Wildcats scored a season-high 52 points in the first half, paced by Knox’s 15. Diallo added 11, including a thunderous one-handed slam dunk. Gilgeous-Alexander came off the bench for 10 points.

“We played as good (as we’ve played this year),” Calipari said. “That’s the best we’ve played.

Elsewhere:

NO. 17 GONZAGA 76, TEXAS 71, OT: Rui Hachimura came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points, Josh Perkins added 15 and Gonzaga blew a 21-point second half lead before putting away Texas in overtime in a consolation game at the PK80 Invitational. Andrew Jones hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation to force OT, capping the Longhorns’ unexpected rally. But Texas (4-2) had three turnovers in overtime, the last of which Silas Melson picked off, leading to a transition layup with 10 seconds left that finally put away the Longhorns. Matt Coleman led the Longhorns (4-2) with 19 points, and Jones had 18 points.

GEORGIA 83, NO. 21 SAINT MARY’S 81, OT: Reserve guard Tyree Crump scored five of his 17 points in overtime and Georgia beat Saint Mary’s 83-81 on Sunday in the third-place game of the Wooden Legacy tournament. Yante Maten added 16 points, William Jackson had 15, Juwan Parker 14 and Derek Ogbeide 10 for Georgia (5-1). Jock Landale led Saint Mary’s (5-2) with 33 points and 12 rebounds, and Emmett Naar had 21 points.

NO. 23 UCLA 87, UC IRVINE 63: Prince Ali scored 16 of his career-high 21 points in the first half for UCLA. Ali earned the start in place of the injured Jaylen Hands, who sprained his left foot sprain in UCLA’s victory over Wisconsin. Ali helped the Bruins (5-1) improve to 3-0 at Pauley Pavilion. Thomas Welsh had his fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds for UCLA.

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