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John Calipari praises the selflessness of his 31-0 Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari praises the selflessness of his 31-0 Kentucky Wildcats

It’s not been easy — though it’s looked that way from afar — for the Kentucky men’s basketball team to do what it’s done this season. There have been highs, certainly, but also stretches of struggling and forgettable individual performances throughout the year. Together, however, this roster chock-full of McDonald’s All-Americans sharing minutes and baskets, has been perfect.635613391108753355-USP-NCAA-BASKETBALL-FLORIDA-AT-KENTUCKY-71412854

After defeating pesky Florida 67-50 on Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena, Kentucky is 31-0. It is the first team from a power conference to complete the regular season unbeaten since Indiana did it in 1976 — en route to winning the national championship. It would take nine more wins for the Wildcats to duplicate that feat, and that remains the ultimate goal. But perfection to this point is still worth a pause, and applause.

“What they’ve done may not happen again for a long, long time,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s important that people reflect in a real positive way what they’ve accomplished this season. … It’s very, very easy to have a down game, a bad game or a poor night and someone (else) plays well.” Donovan was half-right. Poor nights and down games have happened; Kentucky has simply survived them. Even during its handful of close games, the Wildcats haven’t wavered. They continued to rely on their talent, their size and their defensive effort. They did what they’ve done all season, both physically and, more important, mentally.

“What these kids have accomplished, as young as they are, is not winning every game; it’s that they shared,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “In this society, instead of me, me, me — it’s us, us, us.” The selflessness of this team is, truly, its most impressive and alluring part. During the past few years, Calipari has pieced together teams teeming with the best-available talent, often a collection of one-and-done freshmen. This year’s squad is slightly different.

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