Rushed Reactions: #2 Kentucky 65, #10 Wichita State 62Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2017
Rush the Court will be covering the NCAA Tournament from start to finish over the next three weeks.
Three Key Takeaways.
- The pace favored Wichita State from the start. Wichita State came out firing, and firing, and firing…. The Shockers controlled the pace in the first half and it seemed to throw Kentucky off their game. Wichita State started out by shooting 1-13 from the field and were down only 8-6 early despite all the errant shots. Kentucky didn’t capitalize on the drought as much as they should have, and Wichita State kept the game close throughout. Kentucky finally opened up a 58-51 lead with four minutes remaining, but the furious pace of the Shockers brought them back within one point inside of a minute. Though they came up short on a last ditch three-point shot, the Shockers kept it close against a more talented Kentucky team all game.
- Kentucky finally figured out they had an overwhelming advantage on the inside. With about 10 minutes remaining Kentucky began a series of post-up plays inside to Bam Adebayo and opened up a 45-41 lead. They continued to feed him and he won the physical battle inside, slipping past Shaquille Morris on two consecutive possessions with around seven minutes remaining to open up a 52-46 lead. His emphatic dunk with 7:11 remaining turned the momentum in Kentucky’s favor. The dominance the Wildcats established inside late in the second half spread the defense, allowing for several key open looks and drives for De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
- The Wildcats need to grow up a little before their Sweet Sixteen. This game was a little too close for comfort for Kentucky. Athletically the Wildcats were clearly the better team. However, the game ended up very close in both score and statistics. Kentucky shot 42% and Wichita State 39% overall. Wichita State led in rebounds by a margin of 38-36. Wichita States’ 11 turnovers may have been the key stat as Kentucky only had 7. Watching the game live made one wonder how Wichita State was even keeping up with Kentucky on the floor. The Wildcats need to gain valuable experience from this game that they barely squeaked out and come ready to play in the round of 16. Another repeat performance could spell problems for Calipari’s young team.
Player of the Game. Bam Adebayo, Kentucky (13 points, 10 rebounds). Adebayo had a huge presence inside during the second half on both offense and defense. He battled Shaquille Morris despite his size and was able to make several key baskets down the stretch on his way to a double-double. To cap off the night, he blocked the final three-point attempt by a charging Landry Shamet to ice the game.
Sights and Sounds. “Yeah that foul is on you, husky boy” – a Kentucky fans’ retort in reference to the physical presence of Shaquille Morris
- “I’ve done this for 30 years, and every single time I’ve done that, I’ve screwed up a game. So no.” – John Calipari when asked if he changed his offense to target Landry Shamet once he picked up his fourth foul
- “He just – I think he just rushed things a little bit and settled for a very contested 3-point shot. I don’t know if he thought he was going to get fouled. I don’t know what he did, be he certainly did, and it was a great play defensively by them… He elected to pull the trigger there so that wasn’t great, to say the least.” – Gregg Marshall in response to being asked about the last two shots
- “Coach said that the late-game execution was on him. It’s on me. I’m the point guard. He called it. It was clear what we were supposed to do. I just didn’t do exactly what we needed to do there down the stretch on a few possessions” – Shamet on late game execution
What’s Next? The Wildcats will eagerly await the winner of the Cincinnati and UCLA game on Sunday night.