The first few days after the season ends are always an adjustment. Not only is →
Basketball Season Coverage
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 12:00pm
Fresh off scoring 70, Devin Booker had some encouraging words for his team.
Way to handle business fellas @KentuckyMBB 👌🏼
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) March 25, 2017
Now in L.A., Julius Randle was happy to see De’Aaron Fox end UCLA.
You a dog @Swipathef0x !!! Way to hoop my g
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) March 25, 2017
Well played A.D., well played.
Who said there's no perfect brackets left? pic.twitter.com/MUTokJ6yvw
— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) March 25, 2017
From one point guard, to another.
Fox like that #BBN !!
— John Wall (@JohnWall) March 25, 2017
Wall’s former running-mate was pleased with the performance as well.
— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) March 25, 2017
Chuck Hayes did less celebrating, but during the game he provided high-qualify analysis.
— chuck hayes (@c_hayes44) March 25, 2017
Admire Bam is still battling for position on the block and for offensive rebounds. Even tho he's scoreless right now #CATS
— chuck hayes (@c_hayes44) March 25, 2017
Patrick Patterson did much of the same, with a lot more gloating.
Fox.. cook him! #bbn
— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) March 25, 2017
Looking forward to hearing what LaVar Ball has to say next.. #BIGBLUENATION
— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) March 25, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 11:00am
Lost in the shuffle of De’Aaron Fox’s historic night was Malik Monk’s reemergence. After shooting only 20% from thee-point land in March heading into last night’s game, Monk broke out in the second half, going 4-9 from behind the three-point line and 8-17 from the floor. Fourteen of Monk’s 21 points came in the second half, and his teammate Dominique Hawkins said when Malik saw that first three finally — mercifully! — drop into the basket, the floodgates opened.
“Once he sees the basket and the ball goes in, he feels like he needs to get the ball again to shoot another shot,” Dom said.
Not only was Monk finally on fire again from the outside, he showed no hesitation, a far cry from the player who looked so uncharacteristically gun shy vs. Wichita State. All four of Monk’s threes came from deep, one practically on the South Regional logo:
Few players get hot like Malik, and coming into the game, it felt like Kentucky couldn’t survive another game without him shooting well, so when he finally warmed up in the second half, the entire BBN cried out in relief. The team did too.
“It’s very important because we need Malik when we go down the stretch,” Hawkins said of Monk’s resurgence. “He’s an elite scorer and we rely on him to score most of the time.”
Hawkins said Monk — who had dozens of family members from nearby Lepanto in the stands — didn’t say anything to his teammates in the huddle once he got going, but the relief was written all over his face.
“He didn’t say nothing, he just smiles. When he starts smiling, that’s a good sign.”
By Nick Roush on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 10:00am
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The Difference in De’Aaron Fox
The Kentucky point guard had the best game ever by a freshman in the NCAA Tournament, finishing with 39 points. He put the team on his back from the get-go, knocking down his first six shots. Coach Cal attributes his success to increased physicality.
“What he’s learned to do is play physical, not take a hit and fly, and throw a ball. He’s learned to play through bumps. He’s learned to work. He’s understood the grind now. It took him a while,” Calipari said. “He goes to the rim, and I know if he gets hit, he can still make it. Well, early in the season, he wasn’t doing that. I am so proud of him.”
D, D, Defense
Kentucky pulled away from UCLA in the second half because of their offensive tempo and defensive intensity. They valued each offensive possession and forced UCLA to make difficult shots. For awhile, they went in. Bryce Alford was falling down and Holliday always had a hand in his face, but UCLA was still shooting around 70 percent for most of the half. The contested looks eventually quit falling and the Cats ran away with the game thanks to a 21-9 run.
Monk is Out of His Funk
Bringing his family into the building is just what Malik Monk needed. He had just 7 points in the first half, but doubled it within minutes of the second half. He scored 21 points, but more importantly, he knocked down four three-pointers, the most he’s hit in one game in the month of March.
He only had two points, but Adebayo was effective. Welsh and every other UCLA post that tried to guard him got in foul trouble, and when the double team arrived, Bam found an open teammate. Adebayo led the team with five assists.
It Just Means More
Just when you thought the night couldn’t get better, Florida made tomorrow’s Elite Eight in Madison Square Garden an SEC party.
BUZZER BEATER ALERT! 🚨🚨🚨
CHRIS CHIOZZA WINS IT AT THE BUZZER WITH THIS ALL TIME WALK OFF 3!!!
IT’S EVEN BETTER W/TITANIC MUSIC! 🏀🚢🎼 pic.twitter.com/8CcrXDMzhE
— 🚢Titanic Hoops🏀 (@TitanicHoops) March 25, 2017
Coach Cal joked about the SEC’s three Elight Eight teams in his postgame presser. “No. There are not three SEC teams in the Elite 8. We’re supposed to be a bad league.”
The Cats get the 5:05 ET tip-off in Memphis against North Carolina on CBS. The Tar Heels handled Butler, blowing past the Bulldogs halfway through the first half to win by 12. North Carolina opened as 2.5-point favorites over the Cats.
You’ll hear from the team starting around 3:45 ET this afternoon.
Steve Alford Said He’s Gonna Stay at UCLA
“I’m absolutely, 100 percent not going to Indiana.”
DON’T MESS WITH JOURNALISTS ON DEADLINE!
SI for KIds reporter is cute and all, but not a fan of an off-topic question at 1 am when beat writers are trying to pull gamers together.
— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 25, 2017
Booker Got Buckets
Devin Booker could be a junior at Kentucky. Instead, he’s scoring 70 points in the NBA. What makes his game even more incredible, is that he scored 51 of those points in the second half.
70 points is the most scored by any active player in the NBA. Not too shabby.
Tonight’s Elite Eight Schedule
- Xavier vs. Gonzaga at 6:09
- Oregon vs. Kansas at 8:49
Both games will air on TBS.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 1:20am
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.
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:
The crowd has set to burning smaller items now (beer boxes, sweatshirts, paper). pic.twitter.com/FgoBBzXupC
— HLpublicsafety (@HLpublicsafety) March 25, 2017
Good News: No reported couch casualties. Not yet at least.
— HLpublicsafety (@HLpublicsafety) March 25, 2017
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 12:45am
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.
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.
By Drew Franklin on ©March 25th, 2017 @ 12:01am
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.
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?
…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?