The 40th McDonald’s All-American Game ended with the Cats on the losing end. Kevin Knox and Mo Bamba helped chip away at the late lead to make it a two-point game with 20 seconds to play, but alongside the four UK commits on the East Team, they couldn’t get the final bucket to tie the game at the buzzer.
Statistically, Quade Green had the best performance of the four commits, finishing with 9 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. However, he had a bad shooting game (4-12), missing his first four threes before knocking down one in transition.
“I was going to keep shooting regardless. It doesn’t really matter,” Green said. What mattered is that his team lost after winning the scrimmage earlier in the week. “We lost. I wanted to win the game. I don’t care how many times I shot the ball, I just wanted to win.”
The most efficient Cat was Washington, who had 7 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in just 15 minutes of action. Washington had a few good dunks, but he was at his best running the break off defensive rebounds.
– Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) March 30, 2017
The other two Wildcats, Nick Richards and Jarred Vanderbilt, struggled to get into a rhythm. For most of the second half they had four fouls, limiting the two to one combined field goal attempt.
Calipari’s final two targets, Bamba and Knox, played exceptionally well. Knox hit 7-of-11 shots for 15 points and Bamba completely dominated the first half with 11 points and 3 blocks in 12 minutes. More from tonight’s all-star game:
Vanderbilt Ain’t Mad
Even though he was forced to the sideline for most of the second half in foul trouble, he has no regrets. “My team wasn’t getting back, and I don’t like just giving up free points,” Vanderbilt said. “I’d rather give a foul and make hem earn it from the free throw line. That’s my motto.”
Vanderbilt was arguably the best player on the floor during yesterday’s practice, but attempted zero field goals today. Getting shunned in the spotlight would bother most, but not Vanderbilt.
“I knew guys were going to be reaching for points. It’s an all-star game. Everybody’s reaching for MVP. It really wasn’t that important to me. I feel like I did my work throughout the whole week. I just try to let the game come to me, instead of trying to force it.”
Being unselfish is something he will take to Kentucky and will play an important part in next year’s team.
“Especially in a world where everybody’s trying to get buckets, get buckets, get buckets, I like to have a balance. Go and get some buckets, but also distributing and try to get everyone involved to keep everybody happy,” Vanderbilt added. “Keeping everybody involved, that’s very important.”
Mo Bamba was Hilarious
His sense of humor has been my favorite part of the week. The 7-footer’s sarcasm combined with a deadpan delivery creates gold. Tonight he had three hilarious moments in the press room.
1. The reporter’s asked the players if they knew it was going to be a bad shooting night at the United Center. After the others responded, Bamba added, “I missed two threes, and I’m not used to missing threes.”
2. Michael Porter was asked if being a vegetarian helps him on the court. When he was finished speaking, Bamba interjected, “Wasn’t you eating a hotdog yesterday?”
3. A kid reporter had not one but two questions (and surprisingly a journalist didn’t have an aneurism). The second question: “I plan on playing in this game in 2022, do you have any advice?” Bamba: “Keep that confidence.”
Love for Mo
Bamba had plenty of highlights in the first half, but this might have been the best.
– Overtime (@overtime) March 30, 2017
After one thunderous dunk, ESPN went to a TV timeout. Bamba was immediately embraced by the four Kentucky commits on the sideline, another attempt to convince Bamba to come to Kentucky.
“We’re trying to get Mo so we had to do everything the best we could,” Quade Green said after the game. “We’re trying to get Mo. I don’t care if he fell on the floor, I’m going to run on the court and pick him up.”
Vanderbilt knows how much of an impact Bamba could make next year in Lexington.
“We need that. Bamba was very impressive this weekend, this whole week actually. He’s great. He defends the basket well. He finishes. He’s everything you want in a big man. We’re showing our love and he hears us.”
Washington has No Time to Rest
P.J. Washington only played a few minutes, because he has serious minutes to play tomorrow. He’s flying out of Chicago at 4:00 a.m. to head to the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Basketball Tournament. At 2:00 ET his Findlay Prep team will take on Oak Hill Academy. The game can be streamed on Watch ESPN. Everything Washington said after the game:
Here’s what P.J. Washington said after posting 7 pts. 5 reb. and 3 steals in just 15 minutes. pic.twitter.com/tR7kymwuvp
– Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) March 30, 2017