Rushed Reactions: #5 Kentucky 95, #13 Buffalo 75

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish.

Three Key Takeaways.

Hamidou Diallo Flexes After a Huge Second Half Dunk (USA Today Images)

  1. John Calipari Doesn’t Lose to Mid-Majors. After tonight’s victory, John Calipari’s record against mid-majors at Kentucky is an incredible 83-1 — with the one loss coming as an NIT road game against Robert Morris in 2013. Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way in saying that most of those mid-majors were simply outclassed by Kentucky’s typical overwhelming talent. It’s also true that a sizable portion of those mid-majors were forced to play Kentucky in Rupp Arena, and good luck for any team (mid- or high-major) to come out of there with a win. But ask Virginia about playing mid-majors in the NCAA Tournament. Or Arizona. Or UCLA. Or Tennessee. Or Texas. It’s not easy to consistently beat those very hungry and admittedly talented teams in their own right — time after time after time again. Yet Calipari continues to win those games, and he should be commended for it. It comes down to having your players ready to perform, and as he showed yet again today, he’s proven a masterful coach in that regard.
  2. The Artistry of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Much has been written this season about the ascent of Gilgeous-Alexander from expected role player to perhaps Kentucky’s most important piece. But today was perhaps his best game of the season, peppering a highly efficient shooting performance (10-of-12 FG) along with a masterful floor game. It certainly seems that the Wildcats are going as far as the precocious freshman can take them — in his last nine games, his only mildly inefficient performance came in Kentucky’s only loss — at Florida to end the regular season. Given that he’s a point guard in a wing’s body at this level, the mismatches that he creates are absolute hell for teams to defend against. It will be interesting to see what a physical defensive group like Cincinnati or Texas Tech might be able to do with him.
  3. Buffalo Has Nothing to Be Ashamed Of. With eight minutes remaining in today’s game, Buffalo was within five points. They had worked the Kentucky margin down from a peak of double-figures and the partisan fan base they had picked up in Boise was rocking. For approximately 72 minutes of action in the Taco Bell Arena, the Bulls had proven themselves worthy against two of college basketball’s elite. From that point on, they just wore out. Kentucky started getting to the rim seemingly at will, and everyone knew it was over. Head coach Nate Oats exuded pride in his team’s performance this March after the game, and he certainly has a foundation on which to build going forward.

Player of the Game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky. The star freshman came up big for his Wildcats today, scoring 27 points and logging six rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes of action. He is the straw that stirs the Wildcats’ drink, and he proved it again today.


  • “Pat Riley said to me… your players are all good teammates in this league [NBA]. They all had to give up something… I held them back. […] All of ’em say “You held me back.” You’re doing alright. Will you buy me dinner?” — John Calipari, referring to all the professional players who have come through his program and felt that they were “held back.”
  • “I don’t know how I don’t get every Canadian kid. They all have smiles. […] He was the one guy having fun.” – Calipari, discussing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s progression this season, even when nobody else seemed to be bought in.
  • “I apologized for using the word ‘whining’ […] You don’t want to upset the Big Blue Nation.” — Buffalo head coach Nate Oats, discussing his poor choice of words about Calipari earlier this week.

Sights and Sounds. The Boise area clearly embraced the Bulls during this weekend, as the Buffalo players made reference to everyone being so nice and supportive to them while in the area. The crowd was almost wholly behind them as well, crescendoing at a full roar when Buffalo cut Kentucky’s lead to only five points late in the second half. There was also this, from Hamidou Diallo.

What’s Next. Kentucky moves on to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Buffalo goes home knowing that the Arizona win will be remembered for decades in western New York and they have an incredible run to build upon.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *