Rushed Reactions: #8 Kentucky 56, #9 Kansas State 49Posted by Adam Stillman on March 21st, 2014
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Three Key Takeaways.
- Kansas State had no answer for Kentucky’s size. Starting big men Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson stand at 6’9″ and 7’0″, respectively. Then Willie Cauley-Stein comes in off the bench at 7’0 as well. That doesn’t include three guards who are 6’6″ each in James Young and Aaron and Andrew Harrison. UK’s quintet of talented freshmen didn’t have its best game, but their prodigious size was enough to get by. Kentucky dominated Kansas State on the glass, owning a 40-28 edge in rebounds. Not many teams in the country — if any — can compete with Kentucky’s size across the starting lineup.
- Limiting the backcourt. Kansas State’s strength lies with its guards, and Kentucky did its best to take them away. As a result, stud freshman Marcus Foster had a rough night shooting. He entered the game averaging 15.6 PPG on the season, but his 15 points tonight came on a rather inefficient 7-of-18 shooting. Shane Southwell added 11 points as well, but he also produced inefficiently on 3-of-10 shooting. Will Spradling picked up a garbage-time three while going 1-for-8. Without the interior heft to score on a regular basis in the post, Kansas State’s guards were forced to shoulder the load. They just couldn’t get that job done Friday night.
- Block party. Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the best shotblockers in the country, ranking 13th in the nation by blocking 12.2 percent of opponents’ shots. Tonight he spearheaded a team effort in protecting the rim, swatting four shots in the contest. The Wildcats blocked seven shots as a team, including six swats in the opening half. Even when Cauley-Stein wasn’t blocking shots, he was altering them or deterring Kansas State from driving the lane altogether. K-State didn’t have much success going to the rim all night long.
Star of the Game: Julius Randle, Kentucky. Randle didn’t come out and dominate from the beginning. In fact, it took him about seven minutes to record his first points of the game, but he sure got going after that. Randle finished with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go along with 15 rebounds and a block in 35 minutes of playing time. Aaron Harrison’s performance can’t be overlooked either, as the freshman guard went for 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Quotable: “We were well prepared. We made it tough on them on the defensive end.” — Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber, discussing his team’s defensive performance.
Sights & Sounds: Put this is the strange but true category. After attempting just 14 shots from beyond the arc all season long — making three — of course Julius Randle jacked up a pair of them in the first five minutes of the game. He missed both, which happened to be his first two field-goal attempts of the game.
Wildcard: Just when you think you’ve seen it all, March Madness gives you something new. Little-used Kansas State reserve Brian Rohleder was whistled for a technical foul before the game even started. What did he do? Well, he dunked in warmups with the refs on the court. It’s against the rules to dunk once the clock goes below 20:00 minutes in pregame warmups. Rohleder dunked at the 19:58 mark. Sure, it’s a dumb and outdated rule, but it is the rule. Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison hit 1-of-2 free throws to take a 1-0 lead before any time ticked off the clock.
What’s Next? Kentucky will take on top-seeded Wichita State on Sunday in St. Louis. The Shockers rolled over Cal Poly 64-37 earlier Friday night. Now we get what should be the best round of 32 match-up in this NCAA Tournament.