It’s not the first time I’ve said it this year, but that was closer than it should’ve been.
The NKU Norse weren’t scared, and when Kentucky let off the gas they came hard at the Cats’ commanding lead. They cut it down to single digits and threatened the Cats late. John Calipari didn’t seem too happy, as he continued coaching and yelling at his guys throughout.
But a win is a win, and Fox and Adebayo headlined the “good things” that happened in this round. Here are four things to know from Kentucky’s 79-70 win over NKU.
NKU didn’t play scared
They might’ve been outmatched, but they didn’t run away from the challenge. The Cats and Norse traded buckets early on, with the Norse cutting the lead to two points well into the first half.
However, Kentucky stayed grounded and pushed the lead to 14 by halftime. Even though Kentucky held the lead the rest of the way, NKU kept them on their toes, even cutting the lead down to seven points with 30 seconds left in the game.
They posed a threat inside and hit some open threes. It was as if they had no idea that they were playing Kentucky, or that they were down double-digits.
De’Aaron Fox was the star we needed him to be
Fox separated himself from the pack and stepped out as the leader of the Cats in the SEC Tournament, and he showed his star power again tonight. He had 19 points, going 8-15 from the field. He also had three assists, two rebounds and two blocks. He did a little bit of everything, and put together some great highlight plays in transition (as usual).
De'Aaron Fox being a blur. pic.twitter.com/6FEyWjWk6n— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 18, 2017
Holy bleep! De'Aaron Fox is a menace. pic.twitter.com/jNw3ze14Fu— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 18, 2017
Adebayo stuffed the stat sheet
With 15:44 left in the second half, Bam Adebayo already had a double-double. He single-handedly kept the Cats ahead of the Norse in the rebounding battle. He set a career-high in boards with 18, which was over 1⁄3 of the Cats’ rebounds. He also had 15 points, recording another double-double.
He was much-needed tonight, as NKU fought hard, but it was hard to beat Adebayo’s size and strength inside.
Oh my, Bam Adebayo showing some range. pic.twitter.com/XTfRG72Nwa— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 18, 2017
Gorgeous crossover by De'Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo cleans it up. pic.twitter.com/r9ugoPg4E8— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 18, 2017
Wichita State’s up next
This win brings us a rematch of the 2014 Round of 32, when Kentucky ended the Shockers’ perfect season. On paper it’s clear that the Cats are the better team, but the Shockers will have a chip on their shoulder; they were disrespected by the committee when they were set as a No. 10 seed, and they could have revenge on their minds this time around. Last time the Cats broke the hearts of the Shockers; let’s hope it’s not the other way around this time. The Cats will certainly have to play better than they did on Friday if they want to avoid an upset.