Kentucky Sweet 16: Who Will the Wildcats Play Next?

Getty Tyler Herro #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives against Fletcher Magee #3 of the Wofford Terriers.

The run is over for the Wofford. The 7th-seeded Terriers out of the Southern Conference built a 6-point first-half lead before fading to Kentucky 62-56 Saturday in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Second Round.

The Terriers won their first-ever NCAA Tournament game on Thursday by pulling away from Seton Hall 84-68. NCAA 3-point record holder Fletcher Magee missed all 12 of his attempts in the losing effort.

Grad senior Reid Travis, who transferred last offseason from Stanford, notched a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead Kentucky.

This will be head coach John Calipari’s 8th Sweet 16 appearance. The Wildcats exited last year against Kansas State in the Sweet 16 in Atlanta.

The next opponent will be determined Sunday as No. 3 Houston takes on No. 11 Ohio State in Tulsa. Who’s the better matchup for Kentucky?

Houston Scouting Report

Houston vs. Georgia State: First round NCAA tournament extended highlightsWatch all the highlights from Houston's dominant 84-55 win over Georgia State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Watch highlights, game recaps, and much more from the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament on the official NCAA March Madness YouTube channel. Subscribe now to be updated on the latest videos: Connect…2019-03-23T01:46:52Z

People may remember Houston best for its near miss last year versus Michigan, as the Wolverines’ Jordan Poole drained a desperation three at the buzzer to oust the Cougars.

Last year, they were an under-seeded 6-seed with star guard Rob Gray. Despite Gray’s departure, Kelvin Sampson’s latest team is even better. They went 32-3 and won the American Athletic Conference by 2 games over Cincinnati. The Cougars cruised by Georgia State in the first round.

Calipari’s drive-and-kick offense will be tested mightily against Houston. The Cougars boast the nation’s No. 1 effective field goal defense (per Kenpom), which is fueled by just 42.5 percent allowed on 2’s and a stingy 27.5 percent on triples.

While no one in the main rotation is above 6-foot-8, they work as a unit to block 13.5 percent of shots taken (No. 22 nationally).

The offense (No. 22 in the country per Kenpom) is guard-heavy, and the top one is Corey Davis. The 6-foot-1 senior tallies nearly 17 points a game, draining over 38 percent of his treys. He is complemented by Armoni Brooks’ 13.3 points (also above 38 percent from beyond).

Galen Robinson is the main distributor, recording a nearly 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Outside of this, Houston depends on crashing the boards, which few do better than the Wildcats.

This matchup would portend to be a defensive slugfest.

Ohio State Scouting Report

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The beginning, middle and end of Ohio State is center Kaleb Wesson. He’s a load at 6-foot-9, 270 pounds, averaging 14.6 points and 6.9 boards a contest.

He’s going to try to bully you inside, which shouldn’t be a problem for Kentucky. Calipari will throw a slew of big men at Wesson, including Travis, EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards and possibly PJ Washington.

The only other double-digit scorer is guard C.J. Jackson, who records 11.8 points a game. Overall, this is a plodding offense that can go into long shooting droughts (under 50 percent on 2-point tries in No. 199 nationally).

Houston and Kentucky may be a defensive game by design, but Ohio State absolutely needs it to be to have a chance. Against Iowa State in the first round, the Buckeyes shut down Cyclone NBA hopeful Jalen Horton-Tucker to just 2 points.

The problem for Ohio State is that Kentucky is more than just one player. Assuming PJ Washington returns after sitting out this week with a foot injury, he, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans are just some of the future pros that can threaten a defense.

If you’re a Kentucky partisan, cross fingers that Ohio State is the team your Wildcats play.

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