I must admit, I was really, really concerned about this game. Royce White is a dynamic player, and tonight, we saw just how dynamic first-hand. The Iowa St. Cyclones played the Kentucky Wildcats to a draw for 30 minutes, and then the Wildcats just took over in the kind of breathtaking, overwhelming way that #1 seeds sometimes do.
Congratulations to the Iowa St. Cyclones for a very tough contest. Yes, the margin was lopsided, but quite honestly, it was a game that had me, and probably a bunch of other UK fans swearing at their television for most of the contest. ISU really had a hard time making threes, and Kentucky made them like they were layups late in the game. Royce White's indomitable will kept ISU in the game for a long time, but finally, it just wasn't enough to play 1 on 5. Great season for ISU, worthy foes that they were.
For Kentucky, this was the coming-out of Marquis Teague. I normally award the game ball after the jump, but in this particular game there was simply no contest. Darius Miller was also outstanding, as was Doron Lamb in spite of his foul problems, but Marquis Teague was ... he was just everything we could ever want tonight in a basketball player.
With this win, Kentucky gets to the Sweet Sixteen for the third straight year. I remember a time not that long ago when we would have taken that with no questions. Now, it's just another hurdle in the way of the true, and only goal of this basketball team -- the NCAA Tournament title.
- Marquis Teague. Check out this gobsmacking line: 24 points on 10/14 shooting, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, a steal and two turnovers. Those are Derrick Rose/John Wall-type numbers, and he was much too quick for the ISU defenders to handle in transition. Remarkable game, and as expected, game ball.
- Darius Miller was every inch the senior, and but for Teague's filthy numbers, was a shoo-in for game ball. 19 points on 7/11 shooting, 3/6 on threes, 6 rebounds, 3 assists 1 block, 1 turnover and a partridge in a pear tree. Amazing game from the senior.
- Anthony Davis had one of those games where he was way more effective than his 15 points and 12 rebounds would seem to indicate. He only had 2 blocks, but he had 5 assists and made 7-9 from the line, as well as affected many, many shots.
- Terrence Jones had 8 points and 11 rebounds in a game that was not one of his best. Still, he did his best work late in the contest after having to suffer an attitude adjustment by John Calipari, and that speaks great credit of him.
- Doron Lamb was a lethal 5-7 from 3 point range, got 16 points, and did a good defensive job.
- Kyle Wiltjer made a big early three, but then was banished to the bench for some reason.
- Kentucky's defense of the 3-point line could hardly have been better, holding ISU to 3/22 from the arc.
- 55% from the field and 50% from three will get you a lot of wins.
Not so superlative:
- I thought Kentucky's defense could have been better.
- Royce White is really tough to guard, but letting him run down the floor and dunk it twice in a row is just plain unacceptable.
- Terrence Jones was disappointing. He was wagging his tongue and just seemed to be too "up." After Cal's adjustment, he improved, but we need him to be the monster we all know he is.
- Where was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? He had 7 rebounds, but only 2 points. Not sure his man scored, though, so maybe he was better than I thought on defense. It's just unusual that his name was not called more.
That's it, folks. It's hard to really complain about a game like this when UK shot the ball lights-out. The Wildcats were really strong despite a challenge from ISU, and in the end, the better team definitely won.
Next up -- a rematch with the Indiana Hoosiers. That's a game I think we are all looking forward to.