The success of the 2015-16 Kentucky Wildcats has come in large part because of one of a backcourt tandem that's becoming one of the best in school history.
Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are on another level right now, and that's carried UK from a fringe top-25 club to now being a clear-cut Final Four contender. While it's unclear where the Cats will finish this season, it's very likely both Murray and Ulis cement themselves in the UK record books.
Murray currently leads the Wildcats in scoring at 19.2 points per game. If the season ended today, he would have the highest scoring average under John Calipari. The current record-holder is Brandon Knight who finished at 17.3 points per game in his lone season in Lexington.
Murray already tied the school record single-game scoring mark by a freshman with his 35-point outburst vs Florida. It also tied Jones for the most points in a single game in the Calipari era. His .800 percentage from behind the arc that day is the best 3-point percentage in a single game in school history with a minimum of 10 attempts
With 35 points vs Florida and 33 points vs Ohio State, Murray is the only player under Calipari with two 30-point games in a season or in a career. He’s also the only freshman to ever record two 30-point games in a single season. He is the first freshman in school history to make at least five 3-point field goals in consecutive games
After scoring 35 points vs Florida, Murray followed with 24 points vs Georgia, 26 points at South Carolina and 28 points vs Tennessee. The 113 points over the four-game span are the most by a freshman in school history and the most in the Calipari era. His eight 3-pointers vs. Florida tied Eric Bledsoe (March 18, 2010 vs. East Tennessee State) for the most in the Cal era.
Murray has made a three-pointer in all 26 games this season, the only player in program history to hit at least one trey in his first 25 collegiate games. The UK record is 32, set by Tony Delk during the 1993-94 season.
Thus far, Murray is the first UK player to score at least 18 points in each of the first seven SEC games of a season since Jodie Meeks in 2008-09. He is the first freshman in school history to achieve the feat.
As for Ulis, he's poised to go down as the best floor general that John Calipari has ever coached. Even with former Calipari point guards like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall and Brandon Knight, the numbers back up Ulis' bid as Cal's best ever.
Ulis is averaging an SEC-best 6.8 assists per game and a league-best 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s scored 20 or more points in 10 of his last 15 games, averaging 19.4 points and 7.7 assists while shooting 48.2 percent over that stretch.
He's the only player in the SEC averaging at least 16.4 points and 6.8 assists or better. He is one of just four players nationally to achieve that feat and the lone underclassman.
With 27 points and a career-high 12 assists at South Carolina, Ulis has posted 11 games this season with at least 20 points and at least five assists in the same game, the most by a Wildcat in any season since 1972-73.
Ulis has really been a star when the games mattered most, averaging a team-best 23.0 points and a team-high 8.5 assists in UK’s four games vs. ranked opponents in either the AP Poll or Coaches’ Poll. He shot 53.4 percent with a 6.8 assist-to-turnover ratio in those games.
Ulis needed just 17 games to top 100 assists in a season, marking the sixth-fastest pace in program history for 100 or more assists in a single year. He is the only player with 19 consecutive games with four or more assists since assist became a stat in 1972-73. Roger Harden (1985-86) held the record with 17 games.
But perhaps most impressive of all, Ulis is on pace to break Wall’s record of 241 assists in a single season. As of now, Ulis is ahead of Wall’s pace in 2009-10 when Wall had 162 assists through 25 games, and Ulis currently has 169 through 25 games played this season.
For Ulis to break that record, he will need to play in 11 more games at his current pace of 6.8 assists per game. For now, UK has five regular-season games, 1-3 SEC Tournament games and at least one NCAA Tournament game left to play in. That means UK probably needs to make it to at least the Sweet 16 to give Ulis a good shot at breaking that record, and Final Four just to be safe.
I'm sure Ulis wouldn't mind breaking the record in the Final Four.