The Kentucky Wildcats had a golden opportunity on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament. They were matched up with an Auburn Tigers team that was undermanned and had an 0-2 record against Kentucky this season.
It felt like the Cats were destined for Minneapolis.
But the day ended in disappointment as Bruce Pearl coached his team to the program’s first Final Four and John Calipari had to give the loser press conference. Honestly Auburn didn’t play great. They only hit seven threes, way below their season average. Kentucky just played worse.
The guards were particularly bad. Like...brutally bad.
During the postgame press conference, Calipari stated that there were probably five or six things he could have done differently that would have changed the game. I bet pulling Ashton Hagans and maybe playing EJ Montgomery to shut down Jared Harper’s continued drives to the basket in the second half are on that list.
The most frustrating thing about this early exit is the same thing that frustrated us as a fan base last season when Kentucky lost to Kansas State: Kentucky was the better team.
So here we are again. I know it’s hard to get to the Final Four, even with a superior team (ask coach K). But 2015 is getting further in the rearview mirror.
Tweets of the Day
Zion was really so good he had people rooting for Duke in the tournament pic.twitter.com/uHbugxnQ7i— SB Nation (@SBNation) March 31, 2019
This was a lie.
Zion Williamson— (@ChadxLykins) April 1, 2019
Final Fours: 0 pic.twitter.com/ZusB7du0Cd
As much heat as Cal is getting, K needs it turned up to 11.
Four straight years of no Final Fours for Cal. This wasn't his worst tourney stinkbomb but it’s definitely worthy of top-five consideration.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 31, 2019
This wasn’t Dan Wolken’s worst twitter stinkbomb but it’s definitely worthy of top-five consideration.
Preseason AP poll: 1. Kansas (second round), 2. Kentucky (Elite Eight), 3. Gonzaga (Elite Eight), 4. Duke (Elite Eight).— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) March 31, 2019
Jayhawks got decimated by roster losses. But those are not horrific flameouts for the rest. Single-elimination tournaments are hard. Harder with freshmen.
And to follow that...
Get ready... One and Done debates are coming pic.twitter.com/zvgcWdskAd— Round Daddy (@JStreble82) April 1, 2019
Kentucky goes down in OT upset | WDRB- The Cats had a chance to win it at the end with a few shots at the rim. But none of them would fall. Sure looked like there was a lot of contact down there as well. And so it goes...
Turnovers, poor shooting doom UK | Cats Pause- Kentucky took 21 three pointers despite having a massive size advantage in the post. I’ll never understand that.
Pearl beats Cal in game that mattered the most | CBS- Bruce Pearl deserves a ton of credit. He’s done a phenomenal job making Auburn basketball relevant for the first time since Charles Barkley was there.
How Auburn survived without Okeke | ESPN- Chuma Okeke’s season ending injury against UNC seemed like a death blow to Auburn’s chances against Kentucky. But the team rallied around their friend and continued their dream run.
Cats cope with loss | UK Athletics- Listening to Reid Travis after the game was heartbreaking. That kid gave us all he had for one season. He deserved more.
Coach K forgot he had Zion on his team | CBS- While there is plenty to critique in regards to John Calipari’s coaching decisions on Sunday, the most egregious coaching decision was courtesy of coach K. Zion Williamson scored just two points and took just one shot in the final six minutes of Duke’s loss to Michigan State. Instead of a steady dose of Zion, K allowed RJ Barrett to shoot Duke to a loss.
Magic says Duke loss a win for college basketball | USA Today- While I agree with Magic Johnson’s statement, I disagree with his reasoning.