Lexington, KY John Calipari spent weeks downplaying Kentucky’s pursuit of 2,000 wins, saying his team needed to be focused on getting better, not making history.
Moments after the third-ranked Wildcats routed Drexel, 88-44, to become the first NCAA team to reach 2,000 victories, Calipari admitted it’s pretty good when you can do both.
“We weren’t a part of many of those 2,000 wins (but) we had a job to do and that was drag us across the line before that other blue team got there,” Calipari said, referring to North Carolina as he stood on the confetti-strewn floor at Rupp Arena. “This is a special moment for this program and this state.”
The future looks pretty bright, too.
DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson scored 18 points apiece as Kentucky (12-0) roared into history with easily its most dominant performance of the season. Superstar freshman John Wall had 16 points and seven assists.
Kentucky improved to 2,000-635-1 in 107 seasons, just ahead of North Carolina’s 1,992 victories. Kansas is third with 1,980.
“From the beginning to the end, getting to 2,000 wins proves that Kentucky has been the strongest college basketball program,” former Kentucky star Dan Issel said.
The Wildcats entered the record books in style. Cousins and Wall took control early and Kentucky pulled away with the kind of dazzling play that should give it a pretty good head start over the Tar Heels on the race to 3,000.
The Wildcats shot 53 percent, outrebounded the Dragons, 45-22, and could have won even more emphatically if Calipari hadn’t started substituting liberally with about seven minutes left.
Kentucky’s first win was an 11-10 squeaker over the Lexington YMCA on Feb. 18, 1903.
The program needed 66 years to reach 1,000 victories. Students celebrated the milestone with cake alongside legendary coach Adolph Rupp at Memorial Coliseum in 1969.
This party was a little bigger.
Streamers showered the court moments after the final buzzer.