Rushed Reaction: #1 Kentucky 102, #4 Indiana 90Posted by KDoyle on March 24th, 2012
Three Key Takeaways.
- No Pace is Too Fast. Kentucky dictated the pace of the game from the opening tip, and Indiana simply had no answer. When Indiana missed, which they rarely did tonight, Kentucky would corral the rebound and after two passes and a couple dribbles of the basketball the Cats would already have it underneath the Hoosiers’ basket. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are at their very best when running rampant and Indiana did nothing to stop them from acting as gazelles running the floor.
- Indiana Couldn’t Get the Important Stop. Credit to Indiana, they managed to keep themselves within striking distance up until the final minutes, but their inability to string a series of stops together is what ultimately did them in. Christian Watford and Cody Zeller were tremendous, but Kentucky feasted on Indiana’s vanilla man-to-man defense throughout the entire game. This begs the question: Why didn’t Tom Crean throw a zone defense at Kentucky? Indiana surrendered 102 points on the night so clearly zone could not have been much worse than man. In games that Kentucky has struggled on offense—namely against Old Dominion and at Georgia—the opposition played zone exclusively. Kentucky’s next game against Baylor is a very intriguing one as Baylor plays primarily a zone defense.
- Restating the Obvious: Kentucky is Best. If it wasn’t already obvious before tonight, it should be now: Kentucky is the best team in the country, and if they are to not win the National Championship it will be because they have beaten themselves or did not bring their ‘A’ game. Anthony Davis, the National Player of the Year, was invisible for the entire first half plagued with foul trouble, and only scored nine points for the game. Yet, there are so many weapons on this squad that it didn’t much matter.
Star of the Game. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky. Only a freshman, the Kidd-Gilchrist is playing like a savvy veteran. He didn’t force his shots tonight, allowed Marquis Teague to create for him, and picked his spots beautifully of when to take over on a possession. 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 10-10 from the stripe. It is scary to think what happens if he—and others—return for another season.
Quotable. “I don’t know when this year, but we as a program really came together. We as a team won all our games a different way, so that’s a huge step for us. I mean, we’re not satisfied with just making it to the Sweet Sixteen. It’s time to get back to work.” – Junior guard Jordan Hulls on Indiana “turning the corner” this season.
Sights & Sounds. It isn’t called “Catlanta” for nothing. Driving up to the Georgia Dome this afternoon at 3 PM—roughly seven hours before Kentucky was scheduled to tip-off against Indiana—it was a sea of blue and white shirts littering the streets, restaurants, bars, and parking lots. It was very clear from the outset that the Dome was going to be rocking tonight, and it certainly was. There were many eruptions of applause throughout the game, but the biggest was probably before the game when Kentucky came onto the floor and went through their warm-up lines. The SEC may be a football conference, but Kentucky makes it very relevant from a basketball perspective.
Wildcard. A minor statistic that must be highlighted: Kentucky shot 35-37 (95%) from the free throw line. Absolutely remarkable, especially considering their season average is 72%.
What’s Next? In the most up-and-down, fast paced basketball game you will probably see all season, Kentucky will meet Baylor with the winner advancing to the Final Four in New Orleans. I promise, there will not be a shortage of high-flying slam dunks in this one.