When will the talking heads learn? For a week, we have heard every single commentator in America outside of that idiot Doug Gottlieb, come on television and talk about how Kentucky was going to lose to Villanova and the Wildcats would be out of the tournament a few mere moments after entering it. Of course like all talking heads they forgot the most important fact, Kentucky simply doesnt lose in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament (16 in a row) and thus the win tonight against Villanova should have been expected.
It was a great, gritty victory for the Cats. Randolph Morris played his usual great game, dominating the inside and showing what he is capable of when he puts his head into the game. There was never a time when Morris had the ball that it did not look like he would score. Going into the game, we talked about how Villanova had no matchup for Morris and that keeping him in the game and out of foul trouble would be key. From the opening tip, Morris came to play, showcasing his low post moves and great post defense, keying the victory for the Cats.
Also credit must be given to Jodie Meeks and Ramel Bradley, both of whom played patiently, but looked to score, getting key buckets throughout. The two of them, when joined by Joe Crawford on the outside, produced one of the best defensive efforts of the season, frustrating the Villanova guards and forcing them to take difficult shots. A shout out also has to be given to Sheray Thomas, who bounced back from his unfortunate end to the SEC Tournament and did all the little things right…..big box outs, nice defensive switches, good passes…..everything simple but effective……and he hit two big free throws down the stretch. Good for the big guy.
This was not the prettiest win in the world, but it was an important one. Kentucky showed that there is still life in the Big Blue and that it can still produce great results. Tubby Smith showed that he still knows how to gameplan, making Morris the focus of the offense and creating some of the best defensive pressure seen this year. I admit to being very disappointed in the days leading up to this game at the seeming lack of interest of many within the fanbase and the relatively poor showing in Chicago by the Big Blue Nation. However lots of fans still stuck behind the guys and showed why the UK fanbase is so special. If you talk to somebody who isnt happy about the win, or even worse wishes we had lost for coaching reasons (which there are some out there who believe), tell them where they can go…..this was a good, important win. Most importantly however I am proud of the guys on the team. In the midst of more distractions that at any point I can remember, they focused and got a big win. This is what March is about and UK moves on to face big, bad Kansas……who by the way, likely isnt too happy about seeing the Cats in the second round.