The Kentucky Wildcats pursuit of perfection continues onto Cleveland and into the Sweet 16 after a win over the No. 8 seed Cincinnati Bearcats in the Round of 32. Click here for a full box score from the game and a continued recap of Kentucky’s run at 40-0.
For the first time in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, a team is 36-0.
The Bearcats were able to adequately match up — using Octavius Ellis and Shaq Thomas inside — with Kentucky enough to give them fits for 75% of the game. Cincy’s lack of outside shooting, however, is what truly did them in and caused the final score to look a lot more lopsided than how the game really played out.
In a game where Kentucky’s starters weren’t terrific, the overall balance of the team picked them up and toughed out the game. The only two starters in double figures were Trey Lyles with 11 points and Aaron Harrison who led the team with 13 points. The Wildcats only shot 37% from the floor, yet scored 64 points.
Kentucky plays the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 4 Maryland and No. 5 West Virginia next week in Cleveland. Here is how the game played out:
– Freshman Karl-Anthony Towns dominated the first five minutes for UK, scoring four points and blocking a shot — he eventually finished 4-for-4 from the field with eight points in the half.
– UK struggled to find offense early. Just over eight minutes into the game, UK shot 2/10 from the floor and then 3/16 before finding a groove.
– Kentucky eventually found its offensive game, but the Bearcats continued to fight back. The Bearcats came close to matching the Wildcats output on the glass, trailing in rebounds only 19-15 after one frame.
– The Bearcats also got 14 points form their front-court combination of Octavious Ellis, Shaq Thomas and Coreontae Berry.
Cincinnati with an excellent 4-on-1 transition play during the 1st half.
– Kentucky went on a 10-0 run towards the end of the half to open up a seven-point lead at 31-24.
– Cincinnati had an opportunity to score before the half was over, but a back-court violation prevented the Bearcats from scoring.
– The game has had an incredibly chippy start to the 2nd half.
– Cincy is noticeably getting UK off of their game. Almost five minutes into the 2nd half, UK only leads 35-32.
– Aaron Harrison is Kentucky’s leading scorer with 11 points. He is shooting 4-for-9 from the floor, but 3-for-6 from three-point land. Harrison’s big three gave Kentucky a 42-34 lead, an eight-point lead, which matched their largest of the game.
– Kentucky’s defensive talent and size advantage finally started to show itself. The Bearcats had trouble finding ways to get shots off late in the 2nd half. They extended their lead to 53-41, their largest of the game, with 5:00 to go in the 2nd half.
Kentucky Looks to Advance to the Sweet 16 for the 4th Time in 5 Seasons
After easily handling Hampton, the Kentucky Wildcats are five wins away from a perfect 40-0 undefeated season and second National Championship in head coach John Calipari’s tenure. To do that, they first have to get through the Midwest’s No. 8 seed Cincinnati Bearcats who won their Round of 64 game against Purdue.
Kentucky is one of three programs in NCAA history to win at least 100 NCAA Tournament games. Surprisingly, UCLA isn’t on the list, although when they were a dynasty, the Tournament was MUCH smaller than the current 68-team format that exists today.
The winner of this game punches their ticket to the Sweet 16 to play the winner of No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 5 West Virginia — that game will be played on Sunday.