Kentucky passed a huge road test Saturday, felling a game Vanderbilt squad which caught fire in the second half and pushed UK to the final buzzer.
Ultimately, this win was about too much Anthony Davis and a defensive effort that is, on a game-by-game basis, becoming legendary.
Make no mistake. There are still doubters. Many will tell you that Syracuse has been equally impressive in a tougher league. Never mind the fact that the SEC and Big East have split 20 head to head games this season, with 10 wins a piece.
But what Kentucky has done to its opposition over the past few weeks is downright insane. And no matter what anyone tells you, these are not cupcake opponents.
Vanderbilt was a preseason top 10 team. The roster is laden with upperclassmen and the 'Dores are perennially tough to beat at home. *See last year's win over the Cats in Nashville.
While building an 11-0 conference record, UK is barrelling through a league likely to put 5 or 6 teams in the big dance. The Cats are pounding the opposition in a nearly unprecedented fashion, beating league opponents by an average of 17 points.
They are doing it by holding opponents under 40% shooting and just boasting an embarrassing display of weapons. The Vandy game was but a glimpse of some of its firepower.
-Marquis Teague's emergence as a pass-first PG with a quick first step and the ability to get to the rack at will
-Darius Miller's status as cool headed point forward who provides a secondary playmaker, an athletic speciment and an unsung shot maker
-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as a potential player of the year candidate in the shadow of Davis...he is the engine that drives this squad
-Doron Lamb as a deadly assassin, capable of going for 20+ on any given night
-Terrence Jones, preseason All American, averaging a quiet 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal per game
-Kyle Wiltjer, rarely-used sub who has managed 21 three pointers, good for third best on the team
And of course, a guy who is the true difference maker for this team in too many ways to count. Anthony Davis, as Dick Vitale shrewdly pointed out, could be the first man to win freshmen of the year, defensive player of the year, SEC player of the year, national player of the year AND be the number 1 player selected in this year's NBA draft. Will he have room to win a Final Four MVP trophy? There is a distinct possibility.
All in all, if you are looking at the Cats long-term prospects, the presence of Davis is what separates this team from both past editions of Calipari's teams as well as the top competition around the nation this season. Truthfully, very few teams have an answer for a post player who can cover most of the paint and baseline and literally negate the ability for opposing teams to take shots in those regions of the floor. What this does is shrink the amount of real estate available to an opposing offense, and UK, with its incredible athleticism, has no problem defending the remaining territory ferorciously.
Sprinkle in Davis's offensive dominance around the rim as a glass cleaner and human dunk machine, and you are looking at a player who gives an altogether different dimension than anything else out there.
If you are a gambler, you have to like Kentucky's odds.