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De’Aaron Fox set an NCAA Tournament record tonight

De’Aaron Fox set an NCAA Tournament record tonight

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How big was De’Aaron Fox’s night? His 39 points are the most ever by a freshman in an NCAA Tournament game. Fox was 13-20 from the floor and 13-15 from the line, while Lonzo Ball, considered by some (okay, his father) to be the future number one pick in the draft, only had 10 points. Fox has been on a tear in March, averaging 23 points, well above his 16.1 ppg average, and when squaring off vs. Ball tonight, he made a statement.

“Well, honestly since the postseason started, I’ve been in attack mode,” Fox said. “My teammates just kept going for me. We came in with a game plan. We knew with their bigs, we weren’t doing pick-and-rolls, and I mean, I just made shots today.”

Afterwards, Fox said he could tell early on it was going to be a “special night,” as Steve Alford put it.

“I think I scored like the first eight points of the game, and after that, I was like, you know, it’s going to be a good night for me. I mean, I just attribute that to all my teammates. We knew what the game plan is. Nobody is going to help off Malik, nobody is going to help off Derek, and literally every time, no matter what game, if I get it going, ‘Like and Derek are literally like, come to my side if you want a layup, if you a floater. Just do this or do that, and I listen to them. Even when I’m taking my guy one-on-one, it’s still a team thing because they’re telling me what to do and I’m just doing it. At the end of the day, Coach is putting me in position, my teammates put me in great positions, and all I’ve got to do is execute.”

Once Calipari sensed Fox was on fire, he told the team to step back and let him go to work.

“I am so proud of him, and today all I did at halftime is say, guys, are you watching this game? They said, yeah, okay, good, then you know we’re playing through De’Aaron Fox. The rest of you take a backseat, play off of him, but everything we’re doing good is through him the whole half. And they were ecstatic. Good. Let’s do it.”

What’s gotten into Fox? Dominique Hawkins wants to know too.

“I don’t know, y’all are going to have to ask him that,” Dom said of Fox’s big night. “I might need to ask him that too. He was terrific today. He couldn’t be stopped, and we just kept on giving him the ball.”

Malik Monk raved about his teammate’s leadership.

“Crazy,” Monk said of Fox’s growth as a leader. “He’s been a leader since he’s been playing basketball because I seen him on the circuit before. I mean, nothing changed, but he’s got way more physical and more smarter, and just listening to Coach, like I said, he’s gotten way more physical and way more smarter.”

And Kentucky is in the Elite Eight because of it.


No chill in Lexington right now

No chill in Lexington right now

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According to the Herald-Leader Public Safety Twitter account, three people have already been taken to the hospital with injuries sustained from turning up after the win.

Then there’s this clip of beer box burning on campus:

Good News: No reported couch casualties. Not yet at least.


Check out our photos from the game!

Check out our photos from the game!

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Relive all the fun in our photo gallery from Dr. Michael Huang Photography:


North Carolina opens as a 2.5 point favorite

Las Vegas already has a line on Sunday night’s game and it has your University of Kentucky Wildcats as a 2.5 point underdog against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Kentucky was also a dog Friday night against UCLA and we all saw how that ended.

The total is set at 152.


No celebrations in Kentucky’s locker room, just “business as usual”

@KentuckyMBB

@KentuckyMBB

Kentucky just beat UCLA by 11 to advance to the Elite Eight, but judging by the locker room, you’d think it was just any normal day. According to Dominique Hawkins and Bam Adebayo, there weren’t any wild celebrations in the locker room after the game because the Cats expected to win.

“It was business as usual,” Dominique said. “We’re just ready for the next game, and we’re going to go back and watch film on North Carolina.”

“Business as usual,” Bam echoed. “We can’t celebrate too long. We’ve just got to go out and look forward to the next game.”

There are only so many postgame locker rooms left for Dominique Hawkins, who says he’s doing everything he can to ensure his career at Kentucky ends with a celebration. Both he and Derek had huge plays tonight, combining for 19 points, including five threes. Everyone raves about Kentucky’s freshmen (and rightly so), but right now, it’s the seniors coming through in the clutch.

We know that once we’re on the court, we’re able to make big plays,” Dom said. “Everybody tells us when we go out there, play our game, be confident when you get the ball and shoot it.”

Does Dominique ever feel the need to remind his teammates that the clock on his (and Derek and Mychal’s) Kentucky career is winding down?

“Nah, I don’t need to pep talk these guys. They know how big these games are and these freshmen are growing up quickly.”

Yes, they are.

 


10 Immediate Thoughts After The Win

10 Immediate Thoughts After The Win

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1. Bye Lavar. As exciting as it is to see Kentucky advance to the Elite Eight, it’s almost equally exciting to know they silenced Lavar Ball. Lonzo’s daddy talked and talked and talked some more in the days leading up to the game (and all season), only to get the shut-up finger from the Wildcats and an early flight home.

2. De’Aaron Fox was unstoppable. The career-high 39 points from De’Aaron Fox came with ease as UCLA failed to stay in front of the Kentucky point guard. He got wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and nobody in a Bruin uniform was going to do anything about it. Fox has been in attack mode since before the SEC tournament and that has made him the most lethal scorer on this team. Ask Lonzo about him. Lonzo got the worst of it.

3. Malik Monk found his shot. Not only did De’Aaron Fox light up the scoreboard, but Malik Monk got back in Monk rhythm and had himself a hot night. Monk finished with 21 points after going scoreless for the first 10 minutes of the game, and he had a small stretch where he could not miss. It’s good to see he still has those flurries in him after fans began to wonder if he had lost his touch at the wrong time. Turns out, Monk is still alive and well.

4. Big Shot Dom. Dominique Hawkins hit three big three-pointers and did all the other things Old Reliable gives you each night. He’s playing like a guy who isn’t ready to go home early, and he may not have to if things go like they did tonight.

5. Bam Adebayo scored two points and Kentucky somehow won by 11. If you had told me Bam would’ve only scored two points before the game, I would’ve packed up my stuff right then and there and driven on back to Lexington.

6. Derek Willis scored eight but it could’ve been 20. Willis missed five of his seven three-point attempts and I swear all of them could’ve dropped. The good thing is he stuck with his shot, stayed confident and kept letting them fly, and eventually he saw two of them go in. Those eight rebounds helped out a lot, too.

7. Kentucky controlled the glass. UCLA took the battle of the boards in Lexington, but this one went to the Wildcats, 29-28.

8. Lonzo Ball got EXPOSED defensively. Kentucky went right at Lonzo Ball and Steve Alford had to put him in the corner, far away from the action, to keep Kentucky from scoring 200. UK’s offense hit him with ball screens and he clearly doesn’t know how to respond or defend those as he stopped in his tracks every time he caught a screen and the UK guards were able to go right around him. It was almost criminal how bad UK abused him.

9. Blue got in. It’s almost unfair how well the Big Blue Nation travels in the postseason and tonight was no different. The crowd brought the noise and carried the Cats over UCLA and that small section of fans who made the trip from Westwood. You’re the best, BBN.

10. North Carolina, bring it.


Shut up, Lavar

Shut up, Lavar

lavar-ball

De’Aaron Fox > Lonzo Ball

iverson


Justin Ford | USA Today

Kentucky beats UCLA with best point guard on the floor

Justin Ford | USA Today

Justin Ford | USA Today

De’Aaron Fox dominated the best individual matchup of the NCAA tournament, leading his Wildcats to a 86-75 victory over UCLA. Fox scored a career-high 39 points in his dominant performance over the Bruins. Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball needed a late dunk to reach double figures.

The win sends Kentucky to the Elite Eight to meet North Carolina. That game is set for 5:05 pm Sunday.

 

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At The Half: Kentucky 36, UCLA 33

At The Half: Kentucky 36, UCLA 33

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Kentucky leads at the half, powered by 15 points from De’Aaron Fox. With 13 lead changes already, we may be in for a classic.

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The winner of Kentucky/UCLA will face UNC

The winner of Kentucky/UCLA will face UNC

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Well, should Kentucky beat UCLA, they’ve got a heck of a challenge ahead of them. North Carolina just beat Butler 92-80 and looked very, very good in the process. Joel Berry had 26 points and Justin Jackson 24 in an easy rout of the Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is whopping up on Baylor, so both Carolina teams will be in the Elite Eight. Whoulda thunk it?


Tonight’s officials are…

Don Daily

Tony Padilla, Don Daily, and Bo Boroski. I’ve never heard of any of them, which is usually a good thing when it comes to refs. A quick Google search tells me Kentucky is a combined 10-1 (1-0, 8-1, and 1-0, respectively) in games called by these officials. So, that’s another good thing, right?

Meanwhile, there is a UK fan dressed as a dinosaur in the suite next to me. Why? It’s his bachelor party and that’s apparently what bachelors do.

Let’s win it for him, okay?


Well, UNC looks great

Well, UNC looks great

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Well, if you’re one to look ahead, North Carolina sure looks good. After struggling the first weekend of the tournament, the Tar Heels found their shot in Memphis, shooting 53% from the floor, including 8-17 (47%) from three-point land. Right now, they lead Butler 52-36 at half, and I have a feeling things are just going to get worse for the Bulldogs.

One good thing about North Carolina’s dominance? The game sure is going fast. Only about 90 minutes to tip…


Get ready by watching that time UK beat UCLA by like a million

It was the second-worst beatdown of UCLA in the history of its program.

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said he hadn’t seen anything like it in his 35 years of covering college basketball.

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said, “You’re kidding me,” when told the halftime score, which was 41-7. Kentucky had more blocks than UCLA had points through one half!

It started with a 24-0 Kentucky run, ended at a generous 83-44, and let’s watch it again as we get ready for the Cats’ game against the Bruins in Memphis…


Numbers You Need to Know Ahead Kentucky-UCLA

Numbers You Need to Know Ahead Kentucky-UCLA

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

7 — Kentucky’s ranking in KenPom’s Adjusted Defense rating.  UCLA is ranked 79th.

7-6 — Kentucky’s all-time record vs. UCLA.  Calipari is 3-3 vs. the Bruins and Alford is 3-2 vs. Kentucky. They’ve met only twice in the NCAA Tournament: UCLA defeated UK in the 1975 title game and UK defeated UCLA in the Sweet 16 on their way to a National Championship in 1998.

10 — Turnovers UCLA has committed in two NCAA Tournament games.  Kentucky has 19 in the tournament.  The first time the two teams played, Kentucky won the turnover battle, committing 9 turnovers to UCLA’s 18.

11 — Number of Sweet 16 wins by John Calipari, the second-most by any coaches remaining, one behind Roy Williams.  Steve Alford is 0-3 in the Sweet 16.

13.8, 10.5 —  Bam’s average in points and rebounds during Kentucky’s 13-game winning streak.  He has five double-doubles during the streak, with a double-double in both NCAA tourney games.

15 — Consecutive games John Calipari has won in the FedEx Forum dating back to his 25-point win over Tulsa in the 2009 Conference-USA Tournament final.

76 — Lonzo Ball’s shooting percentage through two NCAA Tournament games.  He’s only missed four shots, and two of them were three-pointers.

19 — Malik Monk’s three-point shooting percentage in the month of March.

19.6 — Points per game De’Aaron Fox is averaging since the regular season finale at Texas A&M.

21.6 —  How many assists UCLA records a game, the most in the NCAA since Kentucky won the 1996 National Championship.

42 — The opponents’ average field goal shooting percentage for both teams.

56.1 — UCLA’s average field goal shooting percentage in the NCAA Tournament.  Their 52.1 shooting percentage this season is the highest in the nation.

175.4 — The two teams combined average points per game.  The over/under in Vegas is 166, depending on the outlet.

 


Michael Porter Jr. commits to Missouri

In news that won’t surprise you, Michael Porter Jr. has committed to Missouri. The five-star power forward was committed to Washington, but after the Huskies fired Lorenzo Romar, got a release and will now play for Cuonzo Martin at Missouri. Not only did Porter have the Tigers on his final list, his family lived in Missouri before moving to Washington, his sisters play there, his aunt is the women’s coach, and his dad used to be on the women’s staff. In turn, his commitment is being hailed as a homecoming:

Well, Missouri just got a lot better in a hurry.