Rushed Reactions: Kentucky 70, Georgia 58Posted by CD Bradley on March 15th, 2014
C.D. Bradley will be reporting from the SEC Tournament semifinals and finals.
Three key takeaways.
- Kentucky’s spurtability key to their success. Georgia hung around and hung around, cutting the UK lead to three at 46-43 with 13 minutes to go in the game. The Wildcats, whose offense had sputtered for much of the game, then showed a bit of that talent we’ve heard so much about all season. First Dakari Johnson hit a shot and drew a foul after getting an offensive rebound. He missed the free throw, but Willie Cauley-Stein corraled the rebound and found Aaron Harrison for a three. UK then got a stop, and Harrison launched another three. He missed it, and Georgia looked to have the rebound, but James Young swooped in for the tip-in. Seven points in 51 seconds, all off of offensive rebounds, pushed the lead to 10, and the Wildcats never looked back.
- Georgia was crushed on the boards. The Bulldogs reached 12 SEC wins mostly with smoke and mirrors, but the one thing they did decently was grab offensive rebounds. And while Kentucky is the best offensive rebounding team in America, they rank a middling #119 in defensive rebounding percentage. None of that mattered Saturday, when the Wildcats dominated the defensive glass, outrebounding Georgia at that end 25-3, with two of those Georgia offensive rebounds coming too late to matter much.
- The Twins might finally have arrived. Aaron and Andrew Harrison came to UK with enormous expectations, but both have struggled this year along with their team. So Wildcat fans have to be thrilled with the duo’s play in Atlanta, particularly Saturday when Aaron led all scorers with 22 and Andrew had 12 points, nine assists and five rebounds. If Kentucky is to challenge Florida on Sunday and advance very far in the NCAA Tournament, they will need more of such play from their backcourt.
Star of the Game: There were lots of options, including both of the Harrison twins, but Julius Randle keyed UK’s domination on the boards, grabbing 11 rebounds (10 on the defensive end) and adding 12 points.
- “I don’t [laughter]. I’ve had enough of Florida. For four years I’ve seen the same guys. Some of them I think five years. I think they got a special program down there where they keep guys for six years.” – John Calipari, on being told Willie Cauley-Stein wanted another shot at Florida.
- “None of you in the media know anything about basketball. You have no idea what I tweaked. You can’t even read each other’s blogs to figure out, like someone may know. No, no one’s hit it yet. I may tell you, probably won’t.” – Calipari, on tweaking his team’s offense.
- “Who is picking the field for the NCAA tournament? Is it a computer? Is it just numbers or do we look at who is a good basketball team right now? I know we weren’t good enough in November. If you were to take a hard look at it, we might be good enough now. I realize the body of work argument may put us on the outside looking in, and if it is, that’s where we put ourselves.” – Mark Fox, on Georgia’s postseason chances.
Sights and Sounds: There’s no doubt that Big Blue Nation travels well, regardless of opponent. Saturday’s game was played 71 miles from Georgia’s campus and 379 miles from Kentucky’s, but UK fans outnumbered their Bulldog-backing counterparts by a healthy margin, and they were loud. They don’t call it Catlanta for nothing.
What’s Next: Kentucky gets a third shot at Florida, a team to which they lost by 19 points just eight days ago, and their first SEC Tournament title in three years. Amazingly, UK has won only two of the past nine SEC Tournaments. Georgia should get a shot to continue their season in one of the other tournaments, but with so many top seeds losing in conference tournaments, NIT spots are filling up fast.