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The Bigs Played Big, the Smalls Played Big, on to Indiana

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Jamal Murray might have missed some shots, Tyler Ulis might have turned the ball over, but it was a winning start to the NCAA tournament

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A few quickies, before the Indiana game renders all this analysis obsolete:

It was a night when Jamal Murray foundered early until he settled into his game in the second half.

It was a night when Tyler Ulis seemed uncharacteristically off his game, losing his dribble a couple of times, missing some usual Ulis sure shots.

It was a night when the dynamic duo ended with 11-for-26 shooting, two of nine from behind the arc.

It was a night when 24 of Kentucky's 44 rebounds went to the guards.

It was a night when the team had 10 turnovers to 14 assists, way below its usual assist-to-turnover ratio.

So what's the good news?

The frontcourt was aggressive and active. I know the Stony Brook big men aren't representative of the corps Kentucky will face going deeper into the tournament, but center Jameel Warney is exactly the kind of big man that has given Kentucky problems this season.

The good Skal showed up, looking for his shot, making several of them and being very active on the defensive block. The range of his jump shots keeps getting deeper and deeper, which simply shows the confidence he's building (or the confidence the coaches are demanding of him). And I loved the Jabbar-type sky hook he hit. He's tried a few of those this season and made a few, too, though the attempts and mades diminished along with his diminishing confidence. It's good to see him pepped up, clapping his hands, calling for the ball.

Don't ever minimize the importance of the rebounding job the guards do. It's not accidental and it's not at the expense of the frontcourt. Murray, Briscoe and Charles Matthews and even Dominique Hawkins (when they're in) are big, strong, active guards and they go naturally to the boards. And when they corral rebounds, the transition breaks start naturally, because the ball is already in a ball-handler's hands. Furthermore, in today's Three Point Era, there are more long rebounds than in the old days, and you need reactive, athletic backcourt men to go after those.

The defense was outstanding. Maybe Stony Brook was tight and maybe it's not the best-shooting team on a good night, but there had to be some UK contribution to the Seawolves' 26 percent shooting. I'm always interested to hear what opposing coaches and players say after a game – particularly when it goes beyond the blah-blah-blah, "we played hard, we're not hanging our heads" level of commentary. Coach Steve Pikiell and team leader Carson Puriefoy both raved about how good, big, fast and athletic the Wildcats were. I think that tells you more than what we're able to see on TV or to hear from Grant Hill and whatever contribution Bill Raftery made to the discussion.

What else was good news? That we weren't playing Indiana, who probably wouldn't have shot even more poorly than we did in the first half and might have gotten out to a big early lead that would have revved up the IU fans in the stands, quieted the UK fans in the stands and might have discouraged some of our younger players.

On a side note, Baylor big man Taurean Prince came in for some post-game criticism for his snarky answer to a reporter's question about rebounding. Apart from the fact that it's expecting a lot for these kids to show up and talk about a season-ending loss, especially an upset loss in the first round, this particular question had a mean side to it.

Perhaps Baylor's lack of rebounding success against a smaller, less-athletic Yale team was a valid point. But the question was asked in an accusatory, critical, confrontational manner: "How does Yale outrebound Baylor??" ("What did you do wrong? What's the matter with you?") And the reporter asked it twice.

Prince's answer was the perfect squelch to an inappropriate question! As Rico Gathers found out during a Baylor timeout, Prince doesn't seem to be someone to trifle with.