LEXINGTON, Ky. - Drexel managed to elude the blizzard in Philadelphia over the weekend. But the Dragons couldn't avoid making history last night at the hands of No. 3 Kentucky.
For Drexel's rather dubious distinction, the "honor'' of becoming the Wildcats' NCAA-record 2,000th win in an illustrious 107-year reign, Kentucky paid the visitors a guarantee of $50,000 to $80,000, sources said.
But hey, Drexel coach Bruiser Flint and Kentucky's John Calipari are friends, right? And what are friends for?
Apparently, money. Lots of it. In exchange for a blowout.
"We're still going out for drinks afterward,'' said Flint, an assistant under Calipari at Massachusetts.
Kentucky's 88-44 rout came in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 24,354 at Rupp Arena that remained until the final buzzer sounded. Among the notables looking on were the governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, former coach Joe B. Hall and former All-American Jamal Mashburn.
It certainly felt eerily similar to last season's "buy game,'' when Calipari's Memphis Tigers dealt Flint's Dragons a 87-49 shellacking on Dec. 22 at FedEx Forum for approximately the same sum.
Flint wasn't on the Drexel sideline for that one. He was serving a suspension and watched it from Calipari's suite. Last night, he probably wished he had similar luxurious accommodations the way the Wildcats were toying with his squad. Plus, he would have avoided all the streamers and confetti that poured down from the rafters after the culmination of "UK2K.''
"It was the same result,'' said Flint, whose team suffered its worst defeat since Nov. 29, 2007, when the Dragons lost to George Mason, 85-38. "It didn't matter if I was on the court or not.
"We were awful. You don't come into this building and play that way.''
Kentucky (12-0, best start since 1993) made 53.4 percent of its shots, and was 9-for-13 from beyond the arc. Drexel (6-6) shot an abysmal 30.9 percent.
"[Flint] hit us on a bad night,'' Calipari said. "That's as good as we've been.''
It almost didn't seem fair when future No. 1 overall NBA pick John Wall flipped the ball around his back and dropped in a finger-roll, or little-used Ramon Harris knocked down a rare three (he missed his first nine of the season).
But with Wall adding to his resume and role players like Harris rising to the occasion out of nowhere, Drexel could only watch in awe as Kentucky carved up its man-to-man defense en route to a 56-20 halftime lead.
"They're the biggest team in the NCAA, I believe,'' Flint said. "Plus they've got John Wall.''
Wall, a 6-4 guard, scored 16 points and added a game-high seven assists. However, it was the Wildcats' imposing frontline of DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson that caused the Dragons the most havoc. Cousins had 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and Patterson also had 18 points.
Kentucky's lead swelled to as many as 51, even after Calipari called off the dogs and inserted his second unit.
Afterward, Calipari pointed out that while Kentucky became the first team to reach 2,000 wins, North Carolina, at 1,992, is in hot pursuit.
"We weren't a part of many of those 2,000 wins and we had a job to do and that was drag us across the line before that other blue team got there," Calipari said. "This is a special moment for this program and this state."
Drexel saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
"This game was crazy,'' said sophomore forward Samme Givens, who had a team-high 11 for the Dragons. "I guess every seat in the place was filled. When I looked around I was amazed, but we still had to go out there and play. We knew we could not get swallowed up by the atmosphere.''
However, it was clear that they did. The Wildcats opened with 15 of the game's first 18 points and never looked back.