De’Aaron Fox scored 19 points to lead the second-seeded Wildcats to a 79-70 victory Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
From that point on, it was pretty much all Wildcats as Kentucky (30-5) reached the 30-win plateau for the second time in the past three years and the fourth time in John Calipari’s eight seasons as coach of the Wildcats.
At tip-off, though, no one seemed to believe in the NKU basketball team more than the players themselves.
When we were in high school, we played against each other a few times in the state championship and things like that.
I also have a pair of (10) seeds winning a game with Wichita State and Marquette. “They’re in our state and it’s great to be able to play them in our first game in the tournament”. Wichita State ranks as the No. 7 three-point shooting team in the country at 40.4 percent overall while the Wildcats have the No. 11 three-point defense by allowing only 30.5 percent of opposing threes to go in. With plenty of March success recently, Wichita State’s fans travel well, and even Oklahoma State and Jacksonville State were well-represented Friday.
Q. De’Aaron and Malik, it’s often said that freshmen nearly become sophomores this time of year as you mature. “We’re excited to get an opportunity to play against a prestigious program like Kentucky”.
Zach Brown started the game against Dayton, and he is a little more versatile player than Willis, although you give up some size.
On the flip side, Wichita State has never lost to a two seed.
“We have a three-headed monster at the five”, Marshall said. Wichita State, despite its conference affiliation, is big-time all the way. (We have) a group of guys that actually want me to be successful (and that) is what motivates me. “We really try to focus on making sure we do our sets right and doing what Coach says”. “So to get to this point, college coaches, we’re all – we were all the kind of guys that probably had to cram anyway back in our college days”. “Kentucky is an elite-level team and we knew that, but I just wish we could have seen what might have happened had we made more than 8 of 32 3s”.
Still, Wichita boasts a ton of playoff experience, while most of Kentucky’s front line are freshman who have a propensity to vanish in big-games (see: Malik Monk v Georgia).
All I have left is an empty bracket to fill out every year in hopes I stack up well with some Joe Blow in Wisconsin. They out-rebounded the Flyers 48-29, and regularly contested Dayton’s attempts at the rim. The Shockers come into the game with a 31-4 record and an RPI ranking of #32 per Jerry Palm.
Wichita State has waited for this chance to exact revenge against Kentucky.