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Kentucky Wildcats Saturday Quickies: Welcome to the Elite Eight Edition

Kentucky avenges December UCLA loss to move on to their sixth Elite Eight under John Calipari.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and what a fine morning it is. I’ll be your substitute Quickies host for today, a day that sees the most pleasant type of hangover — a morning after victory.

In lieu of my usual post game remarks in the after-thread comments, I’ll just open by leaving them here:

The good and great:

  • Kentucky was patient and determined. They were able to throttle the pace but still score quickly when the opportunities came.

  • Kentucky found it’s defensive identity against Florida on February 25th, and it has served them very, very well.

  • 1.28 points/possession is the best we’ve seen out of this team since we drubbed Arkansas’ corpse back in January.

  • Offensive rebounding was very good at 33%.

  • Turnovers — 9% for UK, 19% for UCLA. Combined with ORs, that gave Kentucky 8 more shots at the basket, and with a true shooting percentage of 61%, that mattered.

  • Free throw shooting? How does 82% strike you? Works for me!

  • 44% from three, and we needed every percentage point. UCLA shot their normal (for the season) 40% (actually 39.1, but what’s a percentage point among bluebloods?)

  • The Game Ball is a straight-up no-brainer — De’Aaron Fox with 38 ponts on 13-19 shooting, 13-15 from the line 3 rebounds, 4 assists, only 1 turnover, 2 steals and a partridge in a pear tree. I think he also replaced one of the arena lights in between possessions. One of the greatest lines I have seen at Kentucky since… earlier this year! Honorable mentions: Malik Monk and Dominique Hawkins.

The not-so-good and bad:

  • Defensive rebounding was not great at 70%. That leaves 30% for OR’s, and that’s too many.

  • Defensive efficiency of 1.12 is not very good most days. Against UCLA, it has to be good enough, because they rarely get held down that much.

  • Bam Adebayo was almost invisible on the box score, and his contribution was as minimal as I’ve seen in a long time. But even though I’m listing this as a negative, he was a very important presence, played well defensively, and deserves more credit than his line indicates. However, he did fumble several post entries, uncharacteristically.

That’s it. When you run at almost 1.3 points/possession like that, there’s not going to be a lot to criticize unless you fail to defend, and Kentucky manifestly did not fail to defend.

Now the road gets even tougher Sunday when we face revenge-minded North Carolina.

Tweet of the Morning

Schadenfreude is not an ethical thing, but yeah, this guy deserves every little bit of it.

In UCLA’s Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky, Lonzo was, at best, the third- or fourth-best player on a college floor, and even that is probably a stretch. Frankly, De’Aaron Fox made him look like a sophomore scrub called up from the JV team to be a varsity practice dummy.

Ouch, but mmm, schadenfreude! Not at Lonzo, now, by all accounts he’s a nice, humble young man — but at his loud-mouth lout of a father.


Your Quickies:

Kentucky football
Kentucky basketball
  • Some Derek Willis love, well deserved. I thought he played pretty well last night. Unfortunately, TJ Leaf is just a bad matchup for our team in December, and just as bad in the Tournament. But we held down his help pretty well, and to his credit, Willis did a good job on him in the second half.

  • Evan Daniels is thinking good (for UK) thoughts about Mohamed Bomba’s college choice.

  • Heh.

  • Michael Rosenberg on Kentucky’s win:

    Fox scored 39 points. Ball scored 10. Fox is so fast that the Bruins had a good excuse for not guarding him: they couldn’t see him. He is also a natural leader who said, quite believably, that he walked into the Kentucky locker room at halftime feeling "like I was shooting too much." Never mind that they were going in.

    Related from Matt Norlander:

    Ball (who promptly told reporters after the game that, of course, this was his last at UCLA ) was outclassed by a faster, more confident, more electric player. Fox was a flash of dazzle and destruction, pushing UCLA out of the picture and giving Kentucky a shot at a fifth Final Four in the past seven seasons. Thanks to Fox, John Calipari is now 6-0 in the Sweet 16 at UK.

  • Never doubt Mike DeCourcy.

  • Another "heh" among many this morning:

  • Some typical passive/aggressive love from Rick Bozich. Hey, at least there’s love in there somewhere … or at least respect.

  • Don’t know what it means, but it seems to be a thing on Twitter:

  • Megan Calipari is on a roll:

  • Pretty much says it all:

  • Amid all the love, embrace the hate:

  • No quickies is complete without Forde, for good or ill:

    UCLA has been a soft defensive team all season, and Fox exploited that. The fact that the freshman from Houston is left-handed may have been left off the Bruins’ scouting report, because they gave him the drive to the left repeatedly. Fox tortured UCLA in pick-and-roll situations from the top of the key – blowing past Ball and other guards, then pulling up in the lane when the Bruins’ big men gave him room to shoot.

  • When Malik Monk smiles, Kentucky wins.

  • Mike DeCourcy drops the bomb (gently, but unmistakably) on LaVar Ball, and the sweet love on De’Aaron Fox.

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