2014 NCAA Tournament: Kentucky Wildcats 78, Wichita State Shockers 76

In a game for the ages, the Wildcats prevail against pretty much everyone's expectations.

The Kentucky Wildcats come out on top of the Wichita State Shockers in a game for the ages. The Wildcats managed to do what most of the media had spent all day lining up to say was impossible. It was very, very satisfying victory after having to sit through an unending stream of Gregg Marshall speeches, unanimous CBS announcers predicting WSU victory. I'll just leave it at that. It wasn't anything WSU did, they were focused on a basketball game. They were justified in wanting a test like the Wildcats to validate their season, and I respect them completely for that. That the media decided to trump it up into some kind of a good-vs-evil thing was both predictable, and even a bit understandable — eyeballs are important to them, and everyone loves the little guy versus the big guy.

Congratulations to the Shockers on a record-setting and legendary season. There is nothing I can write, no praise I can heap upon this fantastic team that can assuage the agony they must feel in their deepest soul. Several of them had worked toward this goal for four long years of labor, and they were undone by a team with some members who will not serve but one season in the college ranks. But athletics is not fair. God hands his gifts out to whom He will, and if religion isn't your thing, consider it the genetic lottery. That part cannot be undone except by harder work and better effort. Today, nobody could have beaten the Wildcats, because their effort was untoppable. I hope the Shockers can find some solace in that. They did all they could, and the clock just ran out on them.

Box score

Observations

  • This wasn't just the best game Kentucky has played all season, it was a remarkable validation of their pre-season hype. Even if they go on to lose, I think no team in college basketball could have defeated Kentucky today. Others will surely disagree, and that may be fair, but this is my opinion and I'm sticking with it.

  • Aaron and Andrew Harrison erased a season of UK fans making critical comments about them, and demonstrated that they really are all that.

  • Julius Randle played his best game as a Wildcat by far. He was a leader out there.

  • The game wasn't perfect. Too many turnovers, too much lost focus. But we saw people step up unexpectedly, like James Young on defense.

  • Nobody could have guarded Cleanthony Early today. He's a pro, for sure, and should be a lottery pick.

  • This was very reminiscent of the Kentucky-Duke contest back in 1993, a lot of "Can you top this?" going on. Very impressive game and lots of fun to watch.

  • I think we can safely say now that the "tweak" not only worked, it worked in spades.

  • This:

  • More firsts for the Wildcats:

Okay, that's it for now. We'll have the postmortem either later tonight or tomorrow, I have to work out, eat, and have a nice, celebratory FRSB or three. If I feel like sitting down and analyzing the game before bedtime, I will, but no promises. I'm just as amped as you are, and I can barely type right now for the excitement.

Oh, and I should mention that we meet our old buddies, the Louisville Cardinals, in Indianapolis next weekend.

Go, 'Cats!

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