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.