The Ultimate Kentucky Villain Will Coach In Rupp Arena

Posted by jstevrtc on October 4th, 2011

Kentucky basketball fans, get ready. He…is…coming.

Just under two weeks ago, several Kentucky outlets reported that another one of these NBA lockout-induced games was in the works, this time one that would pit a squad of former Kentucky players against a team comprised of guys considered “villains” of the UK program. We’re talking about players like Kemba Walker, who, along with the rest of Connecticut mates, bumped Kentucky from the Final Four last season. Tyler Hansbrough would certainly be a candidate for such a team; UK thought they had Hansbrough wrapped up during his recruitment in 2005, and his eventual signing with North Carolina seriously irked Kentucky fans. Then he came into Rupp Arena for an ESPN GameDay game in 2007 and put 14/11 on the Wildcats en route to an 86-77 win.

If It Happens, Surely It Was Predicted in the Book of Revelations.

So, as far as the Team of Villains, you get the idea. We have to admit — it’s a darn good one. We were even inspired (cue shameless self-promotion) to have some fun and come up with other villain teams for other schools. But to actually stage a game like this in Kentucky, where passion for college hoops — and the ability to hold a basketball grudge — resides in the very bone marrow of its citizens, is a strong play.

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930 And You: The 2011 Tournament Under The New APR Rule

Posted by jstevrtc on August 17th, 2011

The new APR rule is a fact. 930 Or Bust is happening. So let’s talk about it.

On the ESPN blog last week, Diamond Leung, a gentleman we’re happy to file under Official Friend Of RTC, posted an article in which he listed the 12 teams that would not have been eligible to compete if the new APR standard had been applied to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. #1-seed Ohio State? Watching from home. Kawhi Leonard and San Diego State? Sorry, they’d have been studying for finals and not playing basketball. Leung also noted how eventual champion Connecticut would not be invited to the 2012 edition to defend its title since, according to the latest numbers, over the 2006-07 to 2009-10 academic periods the Huskies managed an APR of just 893. They could go undefeated throughout the entire 2011-12 season and it wouldn’t matter. In that scenario they’d win as many NCAA Tournament games as Centenary.

Bill Carmody and Northwestern (18-13) May Have Been Dancing Last Year, Had the New APR Rule Been In Play

Mr. Leung’s article got us thinking: if there would have been 12 fewer teams in the Dance last March, who would have replaced them? Among the unlucky 12, seven were automatic qualifiers through conference tournament titles and five were at-large entries. A quick examination of who would have replaced the disqualified teams shows how putting a binary, all-or-nothing, you’re-in-or-you’re out emphasis on a specific number would have affected the Tournament; as you’ll see, the reverberations go deeper than just the aforementioned 12 teams.

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RTC Summer Updates: Ohio Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 9th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Ohio Valley Conference correspondent, Catlin Bogard. You can read more of Bogard’s work at OVC Ball.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • Movin’ On Up: Two teams will feature former assistant coaches in new roles in 2011-12, although each school took a much different path to the same decision. In March, Steve Payne was named the new head coach at Tennessee Tech for the retiring Mike Sutton. The longtime Golden Eagles assistant had coached the team previously, as Sutton was sidelined with a horrible health condition that threatened his immune system. Over at Murray State, Steve Prohm will head the Racers after an offseason that saw former head coach Billy Kennedy’s name come up in at least three job searches before he eventually accepted the head coaching job at Texas A&M. The late-season coaching change didn’t leave Murray without options, as former Racer and current NBA assistant Popeye Jones’ name was one of many mentioned for the opening before the Racers eventually named Prohm as Kennedy’s successor.
  • Ten-Man Class: Morehead State lost its biggest player when Kenneth Faried graduated and was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, but coach Donnie Tyndall is cashing in on the Eagles’ success last season by signing ten players for the 2011-12 season, including three juco transfers. The cupboard wasn’t exactly bare for the Eagles either, with ten players scheduled to return for Tyndall, so how he slices his rotation is something well worth monitoring for any Eagles fan.
  • Transition Period: Quite possibly the biggest news of the offseason will not even affect the OVC until next season. Belmont will join the conference in the 2012-13 season, leaving the Atlantic Sun after ten years of dominance. Also in 2012-13, SIU Edwardsville will become a full member of the conference, making the OVC a 12-team league. This year, the Cougars will play a full OVC regular season, but will be ineligible for postseason play as they continue their transition into Division I. How long it will stay a 12-team conference is up in the air, though. Jacksonville State is openly searching for a FCS football conference to move to, and Tennessee State was recently offered a chance to rejoin the SWAC.

Faried Will Be Missed in the OVC (But Not By His Opponents)

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kenneth Faried

Posted by jstevrtc on June 21st, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Kenneth Faried

School: Morehead State

Height/Weight: 6’8/228 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: We certainly hope you’ve heard by now… Kenneth Faried is the all-time leading rebounder in college basketball history. He might have played at a little school in a relatively little conference, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this fellow displays less than anything but a rapacious attack on the boards at all times. The only year of his four-year career as an Eagle in which he didn’t lead the OVC in rebounding was his freshman season. In 2007-08, Faried averaged — heh heh — a mere 8.0 RPG (it would eventually become 13.0, 13.0, and 14.5 over the next three seasons) and finished third in the conference. He must have been slacking.

It's Hard To Pass Up (Or Root Against) a Player With a Specific Skill

Will Translate to the NBA: Besides the rebounding, Faried showed a penchant for blocking shots, which should not surprise anyone since both of those skills are based on timing and vertical speed. He led the OVC in blocks in his senior season and finished in the top three in the conference in that statistic in his sophomore through senior years. Faried has a rock-solid physique that helped him body up to anyone defensively that he faced in college, but that outstanding hand speed also helped him finish in the top three in steals in the OVC in each of this last three seasons. His dedication to excelling on the defensive side plus his commitment to glass-cleaning are traits that have several coaches rubbing their hands in anticipation.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.23.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 23rd, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • Ohio State freshman big man Jared Sullinger was named Sporting News Freshman of the Year. Sullinger averages 17.1 points per game for the nation’s top team, and this is far from the last piece of hardware he’s going to receive from this season’s efforts.
  • Remember John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe? Well, this year, Kentucky has Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. John Calipari has mastered the art of turning freshmen into NBA prospects.
  • Darius Johnson-Odom, a native of North Carolina, is making his dream come true playing for Marquette in the Sweet 16. Interestingly enough for Johnson-Odom, Marquette’s Sweet 16 opponent is the North Carolina Tar Heels.
  • Battling a knee injury while being forced to guard the opponent’s top scorer is no easy task, but UNC guard Dexter Strickland has performed the task admirably. While Strickland is not much of a scorer, his defensive tenacity is just as important to the Tar Heels as Tyler Zeller‘s hook shots and Kendall Marshall‘s passing accuracy.
  • Marquette head coach Buzz Williams has been rumored to take the Oklahoma job ever since the Sooner position opened up. If Oklahoma wants to secure Williams’ services, it will have to open up the wallet.

Southeast

  • Butler struggled throughout much of the early portion of the season; however, things began to change for the Bulldogs around February 1. Head coach Brad Stevens attributes this change to the elevation in the play of guard Shelvin Mack.
  • Some may call the swing offense employed by Wisconsin “boring,” but this offense has been effective for Bo Ryan‘s squad for many years. It should not matter if an offense is not very entertaining to watch. What should matter is if it works.
  • Brigham Young head coach Dave Rose has seen his star rise in the coaching world during the Cougars’ magical season. The question emerges of whether Rose will return to Provo next season.
  • After not winning a tournament game since cutting down the nets in 2007, Billy Donovan has his Florida team primed to make another Final Four run. While no players from the ’07 team remain, the program still knows how to get it done late in the tournament.
  • Butler has won several games down the stretch this season, including its first two tournament games. This clutch success can be attributed to the even-keel demeanor that the Bulldogs exhibit throughout the late stages of a game.

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Weekend NCAA Diary From Denver

Posted by rtmsf on March 21st, 2011

As you’re no doubt aware, we’ve had our cadre of correspondents traveling around the country to each of the eight NCAA sites over the weekend. We’ve asked the guys to produce a weekend diary of the games they witnessed including analysis, commentary and opinion concerning the sights and sounds at their venues. Our hope is that the diaries will give you insights into the games that you may not have otherwise had from watching them on television or catching the highlights package afterward. Let us know how we do…

Note: for all of the opening weekend diaries, click here.

Location: Denver, CO
Round: Third
Teams: Morehead State, Richmond, BYU, Gonzaga
Date: 19 March 2011

God Bless Jimmerica, Indeed

  • The crowds at the Pepsi Center have been good both days, with stated attendances in the 18,000-19,000 range. The place seemed to be completely full for BYU-Gonzaga tonight, and arguably 75% of that crowd was either a BYU fan or a Jimmer Fredette fan, whichever comes first. Considering that the closest school was in fact BYU (roughly 500 miles away), and that there were no Big 12 schools in town for this weekend’s games, there’s no other way to spin it than to say that the Denver site was a resounding success.
  • In the Richmond vs. Morehead State game, it was clear from the first few minutes that UR wasn’t going to let themselves get rattled by the situation of playing for a trip to the schools’ second-ever Sweet Sixteen. They acted and played like a much higher seed than a #12, while Morehead State was the team that looked considerably more shaky. Kenneth Faried said about the Richmond defense, afterward: “The whole team, we couldn’t get in a rhythm. That’s a credit to Richmond. That defense is great and it’s hard to play against if you never played against it.”
  • Kenneth Faried has impressed the hell out of me in several ways this weekend. First, his motor doesn’t stop for anything. I spent one entire four-minute segment during today’s game tracking his movements, and it was fascinating to see how he reacted to the ball’s position on the floor. The only way to describe his activity underneath the basket is relentless — he never stops moving and as soon as the ball goes up he figures out a way to get as close to the rim as he can., and his second and third jumps are often just as explosive as his first. I also noticed that he sometimes tries to utilize the Dennis Rodman technique of tipping the ball away from the traffic to himself so that he can catch it under control. Second, even at only 6’8, his defensive abilities near the rim are NBA-quality. His hand-on-leather rejection of Justin Harper’s drive at the very peak of his jump was spectacular and had the crowd buzzing about it for a good while afterward. Third, his attitude is a winning one — often smiling, clapping and supporting his teammates, Faried is confident but not cocky. He has the general makeup of a player who came into his talents later in his basketball career, someone who seems to truly appreciate that he’s having the time of his life playing the game that he loves. NBA scouts are going to nitpick his size and his extremely raw offensive game, but his heart and tenacity are characteristics that cannot be taught and will end up serving some NBA team very well in the long run. The kid is a winner.

Faried is a Quality Kid With a Bright Future

  • The way Richmond is playing now, it’s somewhat hard to believe that they were on the bubble until making a run through the Atlantic 10 Tournament last weekend. The Spiders’ talent in no way approximates some mid-major #12 seed — between the speed of Kevin Anderson, the length and shooting ability of Justin Harper, the touch of Dan Geriot and the wowing athleticism of Darrius Garrett, you feel like you’re watching an ACC or SEC team more than an Atlantic 10 squad. Then when you consider that all of these players have been together for at least three seasons, you can understand why they’re peaking so well right now. Not many teams even in those leagues have two 6’9 or 6’10 players like Harper and Geriot who have the ability to make long mid-range jumpers (and in Harper’s case, threes). These kinds of players, inasmuch as they exist, usually end up at places like Maryland or Texas or Florida, not Richmond. Of course the Spiders will have their hands full with Kansas next weekend, but if Boston U. can play with KU for more than a half, there’s no reason to believe that these guys cannot.
  • I love that Dan Geriot had a great Third Round game tonight, with 13/7 and showing a real confidence in his shot from the mid-range (and even knocking down a three in the second half to essentially put the game away). If you’re unaware, Geriot was a rising superstar after his sophomore season (averaging 14/6), but a summer ACL injury in 2008 robbed him of some of the already-marginal athleticism that he had, and he had to sit out the entire 2008-09 season. His redshirt junior year was a struggle, as his numbers fell across the board, and only this year has he been able to find a groove as a sweet-passing center less reliant on scoring than on picking spots to complement his talented colleagues. These are the stories that make college basketball great.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.20.2011

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 20th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • Sunday’s action started with a thrilling game between North Carolina and Washington. The Huskies kept pace with the Tar Heels for most of the high-scoring affair, but Lorenzo Romar‘s move to insert Aziz N’Diaye and Scott Suggs into the starting lineup didn’t yield the result he was hoping for, and the Tar Heels advance to New Jersey.
  • Ohio State‘s excellent season to this point can be partially attributed to the devoted work ethic of an Iraq war veteran on its staff. The Buckeyes’ video coordinator, Kevin Kuwik, served a 15-month tour of duty and was awarded a Bronze Star.
  • Brandon Knight of Kentucky broke out following a tough day against Princeton on Thursday, going off for 30 points in the Wildcats’ victory over the Mountaineers Saturday afternoon. Until the Wildcats’ final possession against the Tigers, Knight had gone 0-7 from the floor in a forgettable outing from the guard.
  • Buzz Williams is being eyed by a number of programs with coaching vacancies, including the Oklahoma Sooners. If you ask us, despite Marquette’s success as a member of the Big East, greener pastures await for Williams. His tireless recruiting and ability to squeeze the most out of his players make him an excellent candidate for a higher-visibility program.
  • George Mason coach Jim Larranaga shares coaching philosophies with his Sunday counterpart, Thad Matta. As always, execution will play a role, but we may get a closer game than most expect, considering the seeding.
  • One overlooked stat from Friday’s win by Syracuse over Indiana State: A missed free throw in the second half by Orange point guard Brandon Triche put an end to a streak of 37 straight makes from the stripe. He should get plenty of chances to continue a new one when Syracuse takes on Marquette’s physical defense.

Southeast

  • The Badgers went great lengths towards shedding their label as a a tournament underachiever. They let Jacob Pullen get his points, but did a very good job defensively on Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels.
  • Brandon Davies‘ absence didn’t stop Dave Rose from turning to a zone defense in Brigham Young‘s victory over Gonzaga. Looming in The Big Easy is a repeat matchup from last season’s tournament against Florida.
  • Inconsistent performances have marked Erving Walker‘s career, and on Saturday, he hit a huge shot to redeem himself and seal a trip to the Sweet 16 for the Gators. Florida figures to have a considerable home-court advantage on Thursday in New Orleans.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.19.2011

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 19th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • George Mason took out a fizzling Villanova in the first round, and continues to carve its own identity separate from the 2006 Final Four squad. The Wildcats’ season is over, and considering it lost 11 of its last 16 games, including its final six, perhaps it’s for the best.
  • The blistering performance Marquette put on Xavier Friday night sent a big message to its doubters. The Golden Eagles shot 57% on their end, and put the clamps on star Musketeer Tu Holloway. Next for Buzz Williams‘ team is Syracuse, a team Marquette beat earlier this season.
  • The Tar Heels broke out in the second half to pull away from Long Island. The high-scoring final outcome, 102-87, didn’t take long to become a polarizing talking point between tempo-free stat-heads (UNC gave up 0.89 points per possession) and traditional analysts (87 points allowed to a lower-tier mid-major)
  • Syracuse stuck to its game plan of feeding Rick Jackson and polished off Indiana State. The game ended at 12:41 AM local time in Cleveland (more on this later), and set up an intra-conference battle with Marquette on Sunday (this too).
  • For Lorenzo Romar and company, winning away from home has been a large concern, but it shook off the stigma, if only for one night, in their win against Georgia. Is it open season on Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox?
  • West Virginia may mix in a 1-3-1 look on defense today when the Mountaineers clash against Kentucky. The game is a rematch of last season’s regional final in Syracuse, when WVU bested John Calipari‘s team in the Carrier Dome.

Southeast

  • The Southeast region has a full slate on Saturday, including a battle between Florida and UCLA. Though the rosters have turned over, UCLA can exact revenge from elimination at the hands of the Gators in the 2006 and 2007 Final Fours.
  • Gonzaga faces the same question posed to the 35 teams on BYU‘s schedule to this point – how do you stop Jimmer Fredette? It seems like there’s nothing out of the realm of possibility from 30 feet in for Fredette, so Gonzaga’s defenders need to be on high alert.
  • Free throw proficiency has been a major factor to Wisconsin‘s success this  season, which is on the line in Saturday’s game against Kansas State. The Wildcats need to show patience in defending Wisconsin’s attack, and play smart defense.
  • Butler guard Ronald Nored had to swallow his pride and accept a late-season move from a starting to role to a contributor off the bench. Will he provide a spark against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers?
  • For all the attention Jacob Pullen receives (and deservedly so), Rodney McGruder is one of Frank Martin‘s more underrated players. Six-foot-four guards who average six boards a game don’t fall out of the sky.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.18.2011

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 18th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • Ohio State standout Jared Sullinger has basketball in his blood. If you recall, his older brother, JJ, pieced together a solid career for the Buckeyes in the early 2000’s
  • Marquette head coach Buzz Williams believes Xavier guard Tu Holloway would receive acclaim similar to Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette if he played in a major conference. A high compliment, but it might be a bit of an exaggeration.
  • With the memory of his late mother always in his mind, Indiana State guard Jake Kelly has led the Sycamores all season. It is tough not to root for a kid like Kelly, as he has battled through all kinds of adversity throughout his career.
  • Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim believes that freshman big man Fab Melo is the Oranges’s “X-Factor” in this season’s tournament. This is a bit stunning to me, as Melo spent most of the conference campaign relegated to the bench.
  • Georgia head coach Mark Fox may get a chance to battle his mentor, UNC head coach Roy Williams, if both teams advance to the second round. Fox got his start in the coaching world as a volunteer assistant at Kansas.

Southeast

  • Florida guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton were key in the Gators’ rout of UC-Santa Barbara. The duo has battled inconsistency all season, but yesterday might be a sign of good things to come.
  • After a fairly below average start to the regular season, Gonzaga is finally starting to look like the team they were thought to be. The Zags proved this in their upset of St. John’s.
  • Pittsburgh big man Gary McGhee will seek revenge on his prep nemesis, Matt Howard, when the Panthers battle Butler in the second round. During the Indiana high school basketball and AAU seasons, McGhee never won a game against Howard.
  • Wisconsin got a big contribution from forward Mike Bruesewitz in the Badgers’ victory over Belmont. The sophomore forward recovered from a late-season injury to provide Bo Ryan‘s squad the necessary spark off the bench.
  • UCLA head coach Ben Howland will not rest following his squad’s victory over Michigan State. The Bruins have a big matchup with Florida on Saturday.

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Around The Blogosphere: March 18, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com and we will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Game Recaps

  • [EAST] #4 Kentucky 59, #13 Princeton 57: “I have rarely been so concerned about a game going into it, and every single one of those fears were justified. Fortunately, the Kentucky Wildcats found a way to win a grind-it-out game against a team that was playing the best basketball of their lives. The Princeton Tigers played more like a 7 against a 10 or an 8 versus 9 than a 13 versus a 4, and Kentucky stared long into they abyss of a first-round exit before Brandon Knight made his only basket of the game — a shot that ranked about 20 on a 10-point scale of degree of difficulty.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • [SOUTHWEST] #13 Morehead State 62, #4 Louisville 61: “Game over. Tournament over. Season over. And…Preston Knowles’ career over. It hurts. No matter when and where this ride ended, we knew it would, to some degree. But not this bad.” (Card Chronicle)
  • [SOUTHWEST] #11 Gonzaga 86, #6 St. John’s 71: “When the St. John’s draw was first announced last Sunday, Camp Zag salivated for multiple reasons, not the least of which was the differential in height between the two teams. We figured we could exploit St. John’s relatively small post men, but secretly we were hoping for an overall strategic whipping on our part that took a member of the over-congratulated Big East to task – physicality inside, rebounding, 2PT shot defense, alertness and speed to break the three quarter court trap. Those were our wildest dreams. Last night’s game exceeded them.” (Zagacious)

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Morning Five: 03.18.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2011

  1. It will probably get lost in the hysteria surround the ridiculous set of games yesterday, but we found the decision by Fresno State‘s Greg Smith to declare for the NBA Draft on the  opening day of the NCAA Tournament to be interesting. It looks like the uncertain status of current coach Steve Cleveland played a significant role in his decision, but we have no idea about why he declared today instead of waiting until the NCAA Tournament was over or at least in between game days. We have seen Smith’s name mentioned as a prospect, but we have yet to see a mock draft that actually has him getting drafted.
  2. On a somewhat related front the NCAA announced that it had upheld its suspension of Perry Jones for five games for receiving impermissible benefits if he were to return next season. Whatever you think of the NCAA’s decision it is unlikely to carry much weight as we suspect that we have already seen the last of Jones in a Baylor uniform.
  3. Most of the injury news surrounding the NCAA Tournament has been about Duke‘s Kyrie Irving (and rightly so), but one other injured player worth keeping an eye on is FSU‘s Chris Singleton. While Singleton lacks Irving’s offensive acumen he is still a potential lottery pick and is FSU’s anchor. He is still a game-time decision against Texas A&M, but if he returns he would instantly make the Seminoles a very dangerous team.
  4. It looks like Texas Tech is very close to agreeing to a deal with Billy Gillispie. Although most fans remember him for him turbulent time at Kentucky it is worth noting that he was very successful at Texas A&M (which is why he got the Kentucky job in the first place). According to reports Gillispie could be offered the job as early as Monday. For his sake, if he accepts the job we highly recommend that he sign an actual contract this time.
  5. We have plenty of NCAA Tournament coverage on the site today, but we wanted to pass along this video that we received from Denver showing the wild Morehead State celebration. It’s what March Madness is all about. . . unless you are a Louisville fan. . .

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Kentucky Escapes and Saves the State of Kentucky

Posted by nvr1983 on March 17th, 2011

After watching Brandon Knight being scoreless for nearly 40 minutes few fans would have been surprised if John Calipari had opted to put the ball in the hands on a hotter hand. Instead he let his freshman point guard keep the ball for what was essentially the Wildcats final shot of regulation. With the clock running down and the score tied at 57 after Princeton got a huge jumper from Dan Mavraides the Wildcats chose to run the clock down before Knight made his move.

Following Knight’s driving lay-up the Tigers seemed confused and inbounded the ball before calling a timeout. Following the timeout the Tigers weren’t even able to get the ball to mid-court before firing a prayer that would have been late even if it went in. A loss here would have likely sent Kentucky into a catatonic state after Louisville was eliminated less than an hour before by Morehead State. The Wildcats were able to survive despite Knight’s 1-for-8 performance thanks to Josh Harrellson‘s 15 points and 10 rebounds and Darius Miller‘s 17 points. The win sets up a rematch of last year’s East Regional final where West Virginia knocked off a heavily favored Kentucky team.

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