2014 NCAA Tournament: Kentucky Wildcats Out-Claw The Kansas State Wildcats

Cat-on-cat violence occurred tonight, and one came out slightly less damaged.

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, fortune smiles upon our old Kentucky homes tonight as the Kentucky Wildcats hold off a tough, physical Kansas State Wildcats team. This game was one of the best defensive efforts we have seen from Kentucky, and all K-State did was what they always do — fight hard, play tough, and give themselves a chance. It wasn't quite enough tonight, but it was had nothing at all to do with lack of effort. It was just a bit of youth and the big size advantage Kentucky had.

I know Kansas St. fans don't want to hear this, but they honestly did a great job. They had an off shooting night, and they were really undersized at a lot of positions. That's just the fortunes of basketball, and quite honestly, this was possibly the best defensive game Kentucky has managed all year against any competition. That it happened to come against K-State in the tournament was as much bad luck as anything else. Congrats to Kansas St. on a great season, and they have a great young squad.

Observations

  • Incredible defensive effort by the Wildcats. Simply incredible. Kansas St. was a bit unlucky to catch us at our defensive best.

  • Overall, this was an unusually mature game for Kentucky. They played with remarkable poise for such a young team. They made mistakes, of course, but Kentucky has played very few teams as tough defensively as tonight.

  • For the first time I can remember all season, this was a patient game by Kentucky from front to back.

  • Young has a bad shooting night and Kentucky wins comfortably. When has that ever happened?

  • The Harrisons were awesome tonight. They were huge in absolutely every way.

  • I'm just in love with the Julius Randle that understands he doesn't have to score to help the team win. I'm in love with that.

  • This was a team effort, and so much of what we did was team-oriented. We have watched Kentucky do non-team stuff all year and lose, and then we get this. It's like springtime in the Bluegrass. Oh, wait ...

Well, folks, I know you're as happy as I am, and I want you all to enjoy this every inch as much as I do, which is a lot. I'm actually glad I don't have any bourbon tonight, or I might drink all of it in honor of this big win. This was, in many ways, the team we have been waiting on. No, it may not be good enough to advance from here, but at least they're good enough for us to find out.

I'll have the full postmortem as usual tomorrow morning. In the meantime, enjoy this victory, even though it's only the first round. It may well be out last this season, but hey, at least we get to see.

Go, Big Blue!

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