Well, Admiral Schofield didn’t make it easy, but Kentucky pulled out a huge SEC Tournament win to give John Calipari his sixth SEC Championship as head coach of the Wildcats.
UK is doing what UK always does: they’ve come together at the perfect time and they look dangerous heading into the NCAA Tournament.
A strong defensive first half helped laid the groundwork, and even after UT caught fire, the Volunteers couldn’t outduel UK and the Cats were able to seal it with free throws late.
Here are three things to know for the Kentucky Wildcats’ latest SEC Title and seventh win in eight games:
A stifling defense
Kentucky stifled and silenced Tennessee early. The Volunteers started the game 1-for-10 from the field, which included nine straight misses after opening the game with a made layup. It came easy for UT against the Arkansas Razorbacks yesterday, as they shot 57 percent from the field and 65 percent from 3-point range, but against UK everything was contested and nothing came easy.
Wenyen Gabriel with the rejection. pic.twitter.com/Mx2xlZE96i— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 11, 2018
Even after Schofield broke UT out of its slump later in the first half, the Wildcats still held the Volunteers to a poor shotting percentage. They finished the game shooting 37 percent from the floor and 37 percent from deep.
Lucky and good?
Kentucky has proved it is a good basketball team. But in March you can’t just be good, you have to be a little lucky too. And Kentucky has to be lucky. There’s no other way to explain this:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander somehow banks in a 3 to beat the shot clock. pic.twitter.com/xVe2Ph2CtN— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 11, 2018
But the Wildcats certainly also showed how good they are right now. They shot 44 percent from 3-point range, continuing a hot shooting streak that could get them very deep into the NCAA Tournament.
And perhaps their best showing was from the free-throw line, where the Wildcats shot 83 percent, and that free throw shooting is what ended the game for UK.
Admiral Schofield kept Tennessee in it
When UK’s defense shut UT down, it was Schofield who broke through and got the Volunteers back in the game. He scored 22 points and shot 4-for-9 from 3-point range. He also had nine rebounds, and scored more points in the first half than he averages for an entire game.
But after he hit the deck face first he wasn’t the same, and that was one factor that helped Kentucky survive.
Now. LET’S CELEBRATE!