Kentucky defeats Cornell 62-45 to advance to East Regional Finals
Kentucky shot poorly but simply had too much talent for Cornell.
The Big Red seemingly had all the elements to make a bid for an upset, including overwhelming fan support in the Carrier Dome, but they struggled to find open shots and run their offense against the length and athleticism of Kentucky.
Cornell (29-5) came out hot early and built up a 10-2 lead. Kentucky then closed the first half on a 30-6 run to take a 32-16 lead into the halftime break.
DeMarcus Cousins was an overwhelming force down low for Cornell’s big men as he led Kentucky with 16 points on 7-8 field goal shooting. Cousins also had 7 points and 4 steals. John Wall added 8 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Eric Bledsoe contributed 12 for the Cats.
Louis Dale led the way for Cornell with 17 points and 4 rebounds. Ryan Wittman added 10. Former Kentucky Wildcat Mark Coury was 0-2 from the field and did not score.
Neither team was able to find the range from long distance. Cornell was a cool 5-21 (23.8%) from beyond the 3-point line. Kentucky was even worse as the Cats when 2-16 (12.5%). UK was only 16-26 (61.5%) from the free throw line.
Kentucky (35-2) will battle West Virginia Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. for a spot in the Final Four. It will be Kentucky’s first appearance in the national quarterfinals in five years.
John Calipari on the game: “You know, I was really pleased with the defense we played today. The guys really worked hard to make it hard for them. We fouled some at the end. Our goal in the game was to guard the three point line and then to also not foul them because they’re a great free throw shooting team, also, and at the end we fouled them a little bit. But the discipline it takes to play that way, the focus that it takes for a group of young people like this, you know, in their first NCAA Tournament run was tremendous.”
Calipari on the second half: “Now, I thought the second half we kind of backed up and tried to just get out of the gym, and you can’t play that way in the NCAA Tournament, but that’s OK. We learned a great lesson. We gave them a chance to maybe clip us. But we did good.”
DeMarcus Cousins on the Cornell fans: “That’s how the crowd is. Especially when it was more Cornell fans there tonight than Kentucky fans.”
Patrick Patterson on the WVU game: “That is huge game for both people from Kentucky and West Virginia. For myself, definitely look forward to it. I know a couple of people off the team. They’re a great team. They deserve to be in the Elite Eight and to be this far.”
Calipari with Praise for Miller: “He’s really been playing well. He’s playing well at the right time. He’s playing aggressive, he’s going to the basket. You know, he made those free throws when he got fouled, which were big. He made that runner down the middle. More importantly he’s defending and rebounding.”
Key individual stats:
– Patterson: 3-12 FG, 1-3 3PT, 12 REB, 2 STL, 3 BLK, 9 PTS
– Bledsoe: 2-5 FG, 8-10 FT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 12 PTS
– Cousins: 7-8 FG, 2-7 FT, 7 REB, 4 STL, 16 PTS
– Miller: 3-8 FG, 1-5 3PT, 4 AST, 3 STL, 9 PTS
– Wall: 4-9 FG, 7 REB, 8 AST, 2 STL, 8 PTS
– UK Bench: 40 MIN, 3-8 FG, 0-2 3PT, 4 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 8 PTS
Notes and thoughts:
– Not exactly a brilliant 3-point performance by either team; combined 7-37 (18.9%); UK was 2-16 (12.5%); Cornell was 5-21 (23.8%)
– UK wins the rebounding battle 37-26
– Both teams shot 61.5% from the free throw line; UK 16-26 and Cornell 8-13
– It was a very ugly, “grind it out” type of game; definitely not a beautiful win, but a win is a win and Kentucky is on to the Elite 8
– How about the pump-handle body slam that Foote utilized on Cousins; I will never know how that was not a flagrant/intentional foul. The officials even watched it on tape and still failed to make the proper call. Can you imagine if that was reversed and Cousins slammed Foot to the ground?
– Kentucky will need to shoot much better on Saturday if they are to advance to the Final Four
– Calipari seemed like he was really spent following the game; he looked like a coach that had worked his tail off during the game
– Cats vs. ‘Neers on Saturday; I really want this win – not only will the Final Four be great, but that would also save us from hearing John Denver music following the game