The Kentucky Wildcats finally got one in March. They defeated the Providence Friars 63-51 in a game where Kentucky led for over 30 minutes and dominated the glass. It was their first victory in the NCAA tournament since PJ Washington’s final season at Kentucky and damn did it feel good to watch. Now Jeff Goodman can stop with his asinine “Kentucky hasn’t won a tournament game in XXXXX days” tweets.
Oscar Tshiebwe broke a Kentucky record by grabbing 25 rebounds, the most in a tournament game for a Wildcat. Antonio Reeves erupted for 19 points, hitting five three pointers. While those two guys had big time games, Jacob Toppin was the best all around player for the Cats.
For most of the game he was matched up with former teammate Bryce Hopkins. Toppin scored 18 points and had six rebounds but, more importantly, he held Hopkins in check by using his length and athleticism on defense. Hopkins had only seven points and was held to just two field goals for the game.
Toppin has emerged as one of the best, most consistent players on the team but this hasn’t been the case for the entire season. Toppin struggle with his mental health as he failed to live up to preseason hype and was even benched at one point of the season.
While Tshiebwe, Reeves and Toppin played outstanding basketball, Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston had solid performances but the team is going to need more from them if they expect to beat the Kansas State Wildcats on Sunday. And outside of two rebounds from Daimion Collins, the bench didn’t give the Cats anything. That will need to change as well if the Cats want to keep progressing this March.
It was good to experience a Kentucky win in the tournament and it will feel good today to sit and watch basketball knowing that our team is still alive to play another day.
Jacob Toppin has been open about his mental health struggles throughout the season.— LEX 18 News (@LEX18News) March 17, 2023
He sat down with @BBNTonight's @MaggieDavisTV to reflect on the season, his relationship with John Calipari, and the road ahead for the Wildcats. pic.twitter.com/p8eqL1L1rh
Take the time to watch this today. It’s great insight to the struggles Toppin had to overcome this season.
I didn’t think we would ever again see a sixteen seed beat a once seed after UMBC defeated Virginia. But Purdue proved me, and a lot of other people, wrong.
Kentucky begins a new streak with win over Providence | Cats Pause- How long can the Cats keep this current streak going?
Jacob Toppin shows love for Bryce Hopkins | KSR- The two friends battled last night but the respect and love still remained when it was all over. Hopkins was overcome with emotion and moved to tears while going through the handshake line. John Calipari held him in a long embrace at the end of the line.
Images of Kentucky’s win over the Friars | WDRB- Relive the win with a series of great photos from WDRB.
Kentucky obscures memories of St. Peter’s loss in tournament victory | Sporting News- John Calipari and the player told the media after the game that they approached last night with a loose and fun attitude. It showed as the Cats played with fire and tenacity instead of timidness and tightness.
Elite rebounder Oscar Tshiebwe does it again | Vaught’s Views- It was apparent early on in the game that Oscar wasn’t going to go out quietly. His fight and physicality set the tone early for the Wildcats. That was the Oscar we remember from last season.
Matt Painter’s failures once again on full display | CBS- The Boilermakers won the Big Ten regular season title, the tournament title, had the Player of the Year and spent as much time as the number one team in America as any other team. But in the end Purdue did what they always do: flop in the tournament. But this was their most spectacular flop of all.
Three takeaways from Kansas State’s win over Montana State | The Topeka Capital Journal- The other Wildcats kept Montana State at arms-length for most of the game but it wasn’t a dominating performance. This should be a close, even matchup on Sunday.
Rick Pitino headed to St. John’s | Fox Sports- Iona led 39-37 over UCONN at the half but the Huskies stormed back and won by a wide margin. Pitino and St. John’s must have had that contract ready to go because hours after his loss, Pitino was headed to St. John’s.
Bat Cats win in walkoff fashion in SEC opener | UK Athletics- It took extra innings but the Wildcats beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs 6-5 in 10 innings. The Cats have won 12 straight and are 16-2 on the season. The series continues today at 2:00 PM at Kentucky Proud Park.
Reseeding the Round of 32 | ESPN- The Cats move up a seed line here as Myron Medcalf looks at what teams have done and what they have to do to keep winning. K-State stays as a three seed.
Expert picks for Saturday’s NCAA Tournament games | CBS- Think I’m going to head out and watch the early games at a bar. Some food and cold beer sounds good as I enjoy the games.