Three Take Aways From Kentucky Basketball’s Win Over Wichita State

Three take-aways from Kentucky’s nail-biter of a 65-62 win over Wichita State in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

1. The two things that won the game for Kentucky

You could say Bam Adebayo’s block of Landry Shamet’s attempted three-pointer at game’s end. Or Malik Monk’s block on Markis McDuffie’s three-pointer on the previous possession. Or Monk’s three-pointer with 2:08 left that gave UK a 61-56 lead. Or even De’Aaron Fox’s jam off a lightning-quick drive that made it 63-59 Cats with 1:25 left.

You wouldn’t be wrong on any of those things.

Truthfully, however, Kentucky was able to punch its Sweet 16 ticket by doing two things: Rebounding the basketball and not turning over the basketball.

Gregg Marshall’s wife escorted out of arena after loss

Wichita State came into Saturday outrebounding opponents by nine a game. The Shockers whipped Dayton on the glass, 48-29, in Gregg Marshall team’s 64-58 win over Dayton in Friday night’s first round game. But Kentucky fought to a 28-28 draw on the boards in the first half and was only outrebounded by two in the second half.

“That was big,” said Fox.

Adebayo delivered his second straight double-double. After scoring 15 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in Friday’s 79-70 win over Northern Kentucky, Adebayo had 13 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday. Derek Willis claimed eight rebounds. Isaiah Briscoe came up with four more.

In fact, Kentucky’s offensive rebound percentage of 35.0 (10 on 34 chances) was better than Wichita State’s 29.4 (14 on 40 chances).

Plus, in a game where every possession was priceless, Kentucky turned the ball over just seven times to Wichita State’s 11. After turning it over six times Friday, Fox turned it over just twice in 31 minutes Sunday. UK had 11 assists to go with those seven errors. That’s the Cats’ best assist/turnover ratio of the post-season, including the SEC Tournament.

One of the game’s biggest (overlooked) plays came with just over four minutes remaining when Wichita State’s Zach Brown, who turned it over four times, made a careless pass out front. Fox made the steal and slammed it home at the other end for a 58-51 Kentucky lead with 4:09 remaining.

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De'Aaron Fox: It's great to advance but we can play better

Kentucky guard De'Aaron Fox talks about his play and the Wildcats effort in the team's 65-62 win over Wichita State that put the Cats in the Sweet 16.

jclay@herald-leader.com

2. A smart John Calipari coaching move

After Malik Monk made two free throws with 10.6 seconds left, Kentucky coach John Calipari subbed in Dominique Hawkins for Derek Willis, leaving the Cats with four guards (Hawkins, Monk, Fox and Briscoe) to go with Adebayo.

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The strategy worked, as Fox took Wichita State’s Shamet coming up the floor. Shamet, a freshman, scored 20 points to lead the Shockers. He had just made a three-pointer with 55 seconds left to pull Wichita State within one, 63-62. It stood to reason that he would take the last shot. But Fox was screened, leaving Shamet free for a second.

De'Aaron Fox: "I'm trying to drive the whole game." He certainly did on this jam @cbertramHL #BBN https://t.co/wJ5pyluMVh pic.twitter.com/4uxHSFJv7s

— Herald-Leader Sports (@KentuckySports) March 19, 2017

He was picked up by the quick Hawkins, who did a terrific job of staying in front of Shamet. When Wichita State tried to screen again, Adebayo didn’t go with the screener but double-teamed Shamet along with Hawkins. As the clock ticked down, Shamet was forced to take a highly contested shot that Adebayo immediately blocked.

“He pump-faked, and I knew he had to shoot it so I just went up and tried to block it,” said Adebayo.

But give Hawkins credit for making things difficult for Shamet before Adebayo arrived.

And credit Calipari for making the defensive substitution.

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Bam Adebayo: Hard fall 'woke me up'

Kentucky center Bam Adebayo talks about taking a hard fall and scoring 13 points with 10 rebounds in UK's NCAA Tournament win over Wichita State.

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3. Kentucky takes a 13-game winning streak to the Sweet 16

Wichita State came into Sunday with a 16-game winning streak, the nation’s longest. Now Kentucky owns that distinction, with 13 consecutive victories.

The Cats have not lost since that 22-blowout (88-66) defeat at Florida on Feb. 4. Since then, the Cats have won five games by double digits, eight by single digits. They beat LSU by seven, Alabama by nine in Tuscaloosa, Georgia by five in Athens, Vanderbilt by six, Texas A&M by eight in College Station, Alabama by five in the SEC Tournament and Northern Kentucky by nine in the NCAAs.

Learning how to win those close games paid off handsomely in Sunday’s victory. Wichita State was known to like a slower, more physical style of play, but the Shockers had been regularly beating teams by double digits during its streak. Its six-point win over Dayton on Friday was against the norm of late for Marshall’s club.

Think about all the PGs ahead of him that will have agents that won't let them work out against him. https://t.co/MLrYeDcbdo

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Sunday, however, Kentucky made the plays down the stretch. The game was tied at 41 when Fox hit two free throws and Willis scored off a nifty Monk assist to put the Cats up 45-41. When Wichita State cut the lead to 45-44, Willis drained a three to push the lead back to four. Then Adebayo scored on a rebound for a 50-44 lead.

And when the Shockers’ Shamet made three free throws to bring Wichita State to within two, 58-56, Monk hit his big shot, just the second three-pointer he made the entire afternoon.

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Malik Monk's confidence pays off

Kentucky guard Malik Monk talks about his three-pointer that put his team up 61-56 and his block of a Wichita State three-point shot in 65-62 win over the Shockers.

jclay@herald-leader.com

John Clay: 859-231-3226, @johnclayiv

Kentucky in NCAA Tournament second-round games

Year

Coach

Opponent

UK

Opp

Dec

1992

Pitino

Iowa State

106

93

W

1993

Pitino

Utah

83

62

W

1994

Pitino

Marquette

63

75

L

1995

Pitino

Tulane

82

60

W

1996

Pitino

Virginia Tech

84

60

W

1997

Pitino

Iowa

75

69

W

1998

Smith

Saint Louis

88

61

W

1999

Smith

Kansas

92

88

W (OT)

2000

Smith

Syracuse

50

52

L

2001

Smith

Iowa

82

79

W

2002

Smith

Tulsa

87

82

W

2003

Smith

Utah

74

54

W

2004

Smith

UAB

75

76

L

2005

Smith

Cincinnati

69

60

W

2006

Smith

Connecticut

83

87

L

2007

Smith

Kansas

76

88

L

2010

Calipari

Wake Forest

90

60

W

2011

Calipari

West Virginia

71

63

W

2012

Calipari

Iowa State

87

71

W

2014

Calipari

Wichita State

78

76

W

2015

Calipari

Cincinnati

64

51

W

2016

Calipari

Indiana

67

73

L

2017

Calipari

Wichita State

65

62

W

Source : http://www.kentucky.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/sidelines-with-john-clay/article139547613.html

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