Saturday, March 31, 2012

Catlanta to N'Awlins

ELITE EIGHT

1. Kentucky Wildcats beat 3. Baylor Bears 82-70
I watched this game thinking I would be in for a tightly contested game of basketball. However, I was soon to realize just how good the Wildcats really are. This a team I saw live when they faced the Volunteers in Knoxville early in the season but even the couple months since that game, this team has really improved and are undoubtably the favorites to win it all in New Orleans this weekend after crushing the Baylor Bears 82-70.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Kentucky burst out of the gates and were leading by 20 at halftime. Kentucky were scoring points all over the floor as they had a 20-12 lead in points in the paint, 13-7 lead in fastbreak points and a 10-2 lead in points off turnovers. Baylor, on the other hand, couldn't get anything going as they were 7-24 (29%) from the field in the half court in the first half, the lowest half-court FG pct in a half for Baylor in last 3 tourneys. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the way in scoring for the Wildcats as he put up 19-points to go along with 5 rebounds. Forward Anthony Davis had 6 blocks which was enough to break the single season blocks record in the SEC, previously held by Jarvis Varnado. He also added 18 points and 11 rebounds. UK also saw Terrence Jones step up with a big performance that included 12 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. The Bears did have two players score 20+ points, forward Quincy Acy with 22 points and guard Pierre Jackson with 21. Acy also had 8 rebounds and Jackson dished out 5 assists.

Disappointment for Baylor
Ultimately, the Wildcats finished with 53% field goal shooting compared to Baylor's 39% and didn't have too much difficulty in adding to their record for most all-time tournament wins, 109 victories, and advanced to their 15th Final Four, tied for 3rd most all-time with Duke. They will face cross-state rivals Louisville in the Final Four on Saturday. Kentucky leads the Battle of the Bluegrass 29-14 all-time. It will be the 4th meeting in Final Four of teams from same state, first since Ohio State-Cincinnati in 1962 National Championship. UK Coach Calipari is looking for his 1st title. Guy Lewis (5) is the only coach with more Final Four appearances than Calipari's four without winning a title. They would also become just the second top-overall seed to win national title ('04 Selection Committee began awarding top overall seed), joining Florida who won as the top seed in 2007. As for Anthony Davis, he became the 3rd player from the SEC to win AP Player of the Year, joining a pair of LSU Tigers: Shaquille O'Neal, Pete Maravich. He also joins Kevin Durant (2006-07) as only the second player ever to win the AP Player of the Year award as a freshman.




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