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Hamidou Diallo punches Kentucky’s ticket to the Sweet 16

© Kyle Terada | USATSI

© Kyle Terada | USATSI

Watch out Atlanta, Kentucky’s coming for you. Thanks to a likely hero and an unlikely one, the Cats will advance to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in the John Calipari era to face the winner of Kansas State/UMBC.

The way they got there? It’s kind of awesome.

An unlikely hero

The war over who should be MVP raged on social media, but my game ball goes to Hamidou Diallo, who turned in his best game as a Wildcat with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. This season hasn’t been easy for Hami, but after a string of quietly impressive performances, he broke out in a big way, punishing Buffalo in transition and providing some crucial hustle on defense. A pair of dunks speak volumes for his performance:

A likely hero

People need to stop saying Kevin Knox is this team’s best player because that honor clearly belongs to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Shai turned in 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, once again carrying the Cats when the offense stalled. I worry that we’ll never fully appreciate the things Shai has done for this squad, especially because it’s looking more and more like he’s playing his last games as a Cat.

The team’s hardest worker and role model, Shai takes everything personally, including Buffalo’s trash talk and the crowd’s clear bias:

When asked about his clutch three, he delivered this great response.

“This whole group is a bunch of competitors, we go after it every day in practice. We love proving people wrong, and that’s what we did today.”

The trash talk was personal

From Wes Clark asking for another shot at Kentucky to Buffalo’s coach calling Calipari a whiner, there was all sorts of extra incentive for Kentucky to take this game personally. According to Kevin Knox and the score on the scoreboard, they did.

“Pretty much all of us took what they said personally,” Knox said of Buffalo.

“We just try to come out and try to prove everybody wrong, and that’s what we did today,” Diallo added. “And can’t feel better about this one.”

In his best I-didn’t-take-it-personally-but-of-course-I-took-it-personally, here was Calipari’s response after the game.

“And I whine,” Cal said of having a team of all freshmen. “Coach [Oats] and I talked about it before the game, Nate and I talked. There’s nothing there. He’s a great guy and a heck of a coach now. What he’s done and how that team plays and what they’ve done in their league, amazing. It’s amazing.”


The Cats heated up from outside

Everyone was worried about Buffalo’s three-point shooting, but the Cats matched the Bulls 7-7 from the three-point line. Thanks to Shai, Quade, Hami, and Wenyen, the Cats started a new streak, with Gabriel showing flashes of his SEC Tournament self with a 3-5 mark from behind the arc. While his post play still makes me nervous, Wenyen finished with 16 points and an even more important 12 rebounds. Way to go, Wenyen.

Meanwhile, Kentucky’s perimeter defense was once again effective, limiting a red-hot Buffalo squad to 7-31 from three. At times, it felt like the Bulls couldn’t miss, but in the end, the Cats’ length won the day.

PJ got his stank face on

PJ Washington was limited by foul trouble most of the game, but in the second half, helped Kentucky take control with some dominant play inside, finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds. With PJ out, Kentucky stalled; with him in, Buffalo couldn’t stop the Cats inside. Once again, PJ proves he is this team’s x-factor, as is that stank face that’s become the thing of the postseason:

Shoutout to Wes Clark

The Missouri transfer turned Buffalo sharp-shooter crowed about wanting another shot at the Cats and he did his part, finishing with 26 points (4-10 3PT FG) and six assists. Clark took some years off my life in the second half, which is why I had to stand up and give him kudos after this fantastic quote in the postgame press conference.

“On top of us being good-looking, we do play hard. We’ve got some grit to us. That’s fine, we’re a fun team to watch.”

Yes, you were.

Kentucky will face…?

Kentucky will take on the winner of Kansas State/UMBC Giant Killer, which goes down tomorrow night at 7:45 p.m. ET. Until then, book your hotel room. Catlanta, here we come.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

47 Comments for Hamidou Diallo punches Kentucky’s ticket to the Sweet 16

  1. 72uksprinter
    8:57 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

    Love the Cinderella gif.

    No glass for that slipper!

  2. jimmer
    9:23 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

    What he said! ^^^^ Great gif.

  3. roachey45011
    9:30 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

    CATLANTA will be hopping !! I’m freaking pumped up now that this bracket is wide open

  4. Smyrna_Cat
    11:08 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

    Great team effort.

    • unbridled
      12:12 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Agreed and that’s why I don’t like MrsThompson wanting to declare a “best player.” We need EVERYONE on this journey.

  5. callitlikeiseeit
    11:19 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

    All you people bashing me all year for saying the SEC has no great team and just several ok teams I accept your apology in 321……..After the first weekend we will likely be the only SEC team left since we had the luxury of playing a 12 and 13 seed. After Sunday 5 of the 8 teams will have lost to a lower seed than they were. Only 1 win vs a higher seed in the tourney….#9 Bama beat #8 Va Tech. SEC is a weak Conference. ACC- Big 12 could have 4 to 5 teams left. Big East and even Big 10 could have 3. SEC may get 2 but I don’t see Auburn beating Clemson or A&M beating UNC. As for us I am scared of Cincy. They are a higher seed {we know how well that has gone for the SEC} and I was in Louisville when we had the undefeated team and they played us tough with a far less talented team.

    • BigBlueNationDude
      11:29 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

      Cant deny that. The ol matt jones jinx. Thats all he was talking about. Sec undefeated blahhh.

    • jaws2
      11:45 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

      You seriously have the balls to come here and say “we” in any context? You’re shi##ing me! Seeds shmeeds! This entire tournament was mis seeded and that’s not our fault! Go stick your head up your ass man!!!

    • KentuckyFan232
      11:51 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

      I don’t think you’ve been watching the same games as us. Cincinnati are not world beaters, they are Cincinnati. I like how you write a paragraph on how intellectually superior you are then everybody else. Sit there behind your screen and live your pitiful existence.

    • Smyrna_Cat
      11:58 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

      Unfortunately, your “calling it like it is” appears to red-colored glasses. And please don’t say “we.”

    • CATandMONKEY
      12:05 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Just. Stop.

    • SuperTroy18
      12:31 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Card troll, even Barkley said his biggest takeaway from the first two days was “the dominance of the SEC”. I think he might know a bit more about basketball than some fan of a team that isn’t even in the tourney.
      And we can talk a bit more after tomorrow when A&M knocks out your Heels…

    • katmandue2you
      1:20 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Here’s how I’m callingitlikeiseeit. Dude we are not the number one seed losing to the 16. We are not the 4 seed losing to the 13 seed. Or the 3 seed losing to whatever seed Tennessee lost to. We are the 5 seed kicking the ass of the 13 seed that kicked Arizona’s ass. The only thing you are proving by coming in here mouthing all that horseshit is that it’s better to be thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt…in other words as my grandpa used to say….you don’t know shit from applebutter.

    • syrin23
      1:57 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      After all, the conference is what matters. UK can’t win it all unless 3 SEC teams make the final four. What stupid logic.

    • CKTermy23
      2:41 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      We probably won’t be able to get Jared back until at least the final four. However we probably won’t need him now anyway. Go Big Blue!!!

    • Parker_UKFanNC
      7:20 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Considering it is the first time in years some of these teams have even played in the tourney our first round success is a good sign for the future. Say whatever bullcrap about the ACC you want but they are now the proud owner of the first ever 16vs1 upset. Oh it was by 20 points as well. So go take your bullcrap unjustified and biased opinions someplace else.

    • 4everUKblue
      7:36 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Callit, I accept your apology for all the times you said Cal can’t coach and that the one and dones suck, we need 4 yr players, I wish we had Tony Bennett or Greg Marshall. You and Slater are the two worst trolls inlets site, it would be a much better place if you both would get lost.

    • BigBlueNationDude
      7:45 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      I did call South Carolina beating duke last year

    • 4everUKblue
      7:52 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      I guess Callit and Slater will both claim this wasn’t them, someone logged into their name. Slater you’re such a liar, no one believes a word you say. Well maybe that you were the second half starting point guard in the rec. league and even that’s a stretch.

    • catsarerunnin
      8:38 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Birds of a feather cry together.

    • SuperTroy18
      7:05 pm March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Called it. Heels get tarred by Aggies.

    • Where is Cincy now?

    11:42 pm March 17, 2018 Permalink

    3 sec teams in still Texas am,KENTUCKY,and auburn

  7. Melvit
    12:04 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Diallo with the Shark Attack!!!

  8. Rabbi Li
    12:25 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Damn media took the post game press conference down (video not available- – above). I wanted to see what Nate Oates had to say after getting his initiation into the big league.

    It was funny how Oates talked about “Calipari doing a lot of whining” about his players being freshmen. Oates tried to say that his experienced players are better than Kentucky’s Fresmen.

    In the end, it was the experienced coach who beat the Freshman Coach. I guess the Wisconsin lisp the guy has was misunderstood afterall… he said, “Calipari doing a lot of winning” afterall…

    Geez finally, I was able to find the post game video interview of Buffalo Coach Nate Oates:

  9. Bobbum Man
    12:43 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    The only downside to this all…. Diallo is gonna be gone

    • Rabbi Li
      12:47 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      Bobbum Man – Downside? Life is impermanent.

      At Kentucky we reload. Did you just become a fan?

    12:50 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    We would be so much better to have some speed and energy on our wildcat team that’s why JARED VANDERBILT needs to come back in after a energy

  11. plumloopy
    1:29 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Wenyen’s floppy, mid-length dreads are what makes me nervous, Not his play.

  12. Azulgrande75
    5:53 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    ¡Nuestro equipo jugó con gran equilibrio y determinación! ¡Quiero colgar otro banner!

  13. LdyWldKat
    5:59 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Heres the link to the post game interviews starts about 3 minutes in…

  14. Randall lee
    9:05 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Hopefully vando will grow a pair and play the next round. Needs to talk to Bogan who went against Dewayne wade or Cameron mills who was the Nov of the final four with a ankle that was black and blue from the heel to the shin. Even that big kid from Purdue who broke his elbow in the first game might play in a brace. TIME TO SACK-UP!

  15. Randall lee
    9:06 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Mvp not nov

  16. henderblue
    9:48 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Proud of and happy for Diallo. He stepped up in a spectacular way. What an ATHLETE! And BASKETBALL player! It was a great team effort and I like our mindset right now. I hope people keep talking negatively about them. They are feeding on it. Go Cats

    • 4everUKblue
      10:38 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      I echo those sentiments henderblue. Of course there are several on here that will talk negatively no matter how good they play, but those who do are pathetic losers, always have been and always will be.

    • henderblue
      11:44 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

      They certainly are 4everUKblue

  17. Kat4Life
    10:42 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Hami = Beast

  18. ScottGreene22
    11:07 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Diallo played great as did everyone on this team

  19. JMFATZ47
    11:27 am March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Diallo decided that his ticket to stay on the court was defense. He let his game come to him and it was great to see.

    • henderblue
      12:11 pm March 18, 2018 Permalink

      That’s exactly right JM. That’s the way he needs to play. Concentrate on d and let the game come to him

  20. Jimi40
    12:11 pm March 18, 2018 Permalink

    Watch the Hami stare down after the put back dunk…

    1st the 2 bulls he jumped over

    2nd the Bulls coaches & bench