Though TV audiences may have had issues with the March 15 – 18 action in Taco Bell Arena, it was all good from the floor as the Kentucky Wildcats advanced through the first and second rounds of the South Region by defeating the Davidson Wildcats 78 – 73 and the Buffalo Bulls 95 – 75.
Round one was reminiscent of much of Kentucky’s past season as the Cat’s were unable to hold on to a sizeable early lead and relied heavily on the play of Kevin Knox, with 25 points and six rebounds to pull out the five point win. Perhaps the most notable stat of this game was the end of Kentucky’s 1047 game streak of games with at least one made three point shot. We asked Coach Calipari after the game how he’d rate his defense and he responded “First half really good, second half shaky.” That seemed just about right. Fortunately it did not portend things to come.
The second game was particularly rewarding for the Kentucky faithful because the Wildcats turned in a strong performance due to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 27 points on 10 of 12 shooting from the field, a muscular offensive performance by Hamidou Diallo with 22 points and eight rebounds – complemented with some, highlight reel blocks on defense and Wenyen Gabriel’s 16 points, including nine points from beyond the arc, with 12 rebounds (including five on offense).
We asked Coach Calipari, who indicated that he was very pleased with his team’s performance in the after game presser, to to identify the one thing that he’d like for his team to improve upon moving forward. His answer was long and nuanced and begins at the 15:00 mark. It’s worth a listen.