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RECAP: Kentucky gets the last word, beats Wichita State to advance to the Sweet 16

Since the moment the brackets came out and we found out Kentucky might play Wichita State in the second round, it seemed like the chips were starting to stack against the Cats. Sure, this Shockers squad isn’t nearly as good as the 2014 team whose perfect season Kentucky ruined, but still, they had the whole country and, seemingly, CBS, cheering for them. Wichita State fully embraced the underdog role, Gregg Marshall boasting about not having a single five-star on his roster and the players vowing to shut down Bam Adebayo. Even Gregg Marshall’s wife got in on the fun, screaming obscenities at Kentucky players and trying to get Kentucky’s favorite sports blog kicked out of the arena.

Fortunately, Kentucky didn’t play along with the narrative. It wasn’t pretty, but as they’ve done all season, the Cats found a way to win thanks to some huge, gutsy plays from its trio of star freshman. None of us would have guessed it, but Malik Monk’s biggest play of the game was a block. Monk blocked Markis McDuffie’s three with thirteen seconds left, keeping Kentucky ahead by one. Thirteen seconds later, the Shockers made another desperate attempt, but Landry Shamet’s three was blocked by Bam Adebayo at the buzzer. The game was over, and just like that, we’re going to Memphis.

Before the NCAA throws us out of here, let’s run down the rest of the game, shall we?

The first half was horrible

Wichita State’s plan to slow Kentucky down in the first half certainly worked. The Cats looked horrible and out of sync, shooting only 33% from the floor for a paltry 26 points. With Isaiah Briscoe struggling to play point, Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis once again stepped up to steady the ship.

“Well, in the first half, Dom just played outstanding. I was thinking about starting him in the second half, but we got a good group that sticks together so I just went with what I was doing. Mychal Mulder made a huge 3. I put him back in to play the four. I was going to play he and Derek as the fours. I played Derek almost the whole half. He played well. Then Derek made the 3 in the corner, made a couple of 3s, rebounded pretty good. Ended up with eight rebounds and nine points. Think of that. Three steals. Derek Willis.”

Derek was clearly feeling good after the game, telling reporters, “I think it’s safe to say I was the best Willis on the court today.” (Darral Willis Jr. was the one who said the Shockers were going to shut down Bam)

Fox took over again

With the game close, most college basketball fans would expect freshmen to falter; however, as we’ve seen time and time again in the Calipari era, the freshmen rose to the occasion. Tired of Wichita State dictating the pace, De’Aaron Fox took over, stealing the ball with 4:11 left and slamming it home to cap a big Kentucky run.

“There’s been a couple games like that,” Fox said of his late game takeover. “The first one was, I think, Mississippi State. I think the SEC tournament, I was really good down the stretch. Also, the Georgia game, at Georgia, I was good down the stretch. So it’s just been a few games. We don’t have a go-to person down the stretch because we’ve got multiple guys that can get it done. If it’s my turn, I do it. Malik hit a big 3 off the dribble, and he knocked down clutch-free throws. Whoever hands the ball ends up in, that’s who does it.”

Fox would throw down another big slam with 1:25 left to put Kentucky up by four, but Wichita State wouldn’t go away. That’s when Monk and Bam stepped in.

The evolution of Malik Monk

Coming in the postseason, the one knock on Malik Monk’s game was that he didn’t play defense. Malik sure proved them wrong today. With his shot still sporadic, Monk made an impact on the game in other ways, skying high for rebounds, dishing out assists, and blocking Wichita State’s futile last second attempts.

“It was great to have Malik back,” Calipari said afterwards. “Haven’t seen him for a while. He’s on that path, still not all the way back, but he’s on the path that we need him on. And these guys up here, they’re young, but they have a will to win and play with courage and are skilled basketball players and great kids who share. So proud of them.”

Bam had the last word

After Wichita State’s Darral Willis Jr.’s vow to shut down Bam went viral, everyone was looking to see how the big man would respond. After a slow first half, Bam went to work in the second, scoring 11 of his 13 points and playing 19 of the 20 minutes. With other shots not falling, Bam’s slams kept the Cats in the game. In the final seconds, everyone knew Wichita State would shoot another desperation three. After Dominique Hawkins went after the pump fake, Bam saw the opportunity to make his block.

“The way it happened, my man had said a back screen for Zay. And the ball came to my side. He pump-faked Dom, so I had to help my teammate. As soon as he went to jump, I blocked it.”

Bam stayed humble, but his teammates couldn’t stop bragging on him after the game. Neither could his mother:

Next up: Memphis

The 2014 win over Wichita State was the moment the world realized that Kentucky could make a run. Will this year’s win result in a similar great story? If you asked me after the first half, I’d say no, but after watching three freshmen pull off one of the best finishes of the season and spoil CBS’ narrative in the process, I can’t wait to find out.

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.

38 Comments for RECAP: Kentucky gets the last word, beats Wichita State to advance to the Sweet 16

  1. syrin23
    7:41 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    SEC is under rated and the ACC is over rated. Arkansas is ahead of UNC midway through second half. Even if they lose, people thought UNC would roll through this bracket to the FF.

    • syrin23
      10:35 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      Arkansas got jobbed by the refs down the stretch. Totally ignored one of the most blatant charges you will ever see.

  2. Fake Donald Trump
    8:18 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    Arkansas just got hosed, badly. How was that not a charge on #2 White toward the end? The officiating for the NCAA needs to be overhauled something awful.

    • GoodOldFan
      5:43 pm March 20, 2017 Permalink

      And, your name says it all….you surely don’t know much about the game of basketball. I am not a fan of either school, but there was NO BLATANT charge. You should watch more round ball, son.

  3. GroundControlToNumber9
    8:19 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    I love this… our players not responding to other teams talking shit.

    Our players let their game do the talking.

    And then after the game mom steps up and shit talks back.

  4. roundball fool
    8:22 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    Mike Anderson completely melted down in the last minutes. Feel bad for his team. Poor coaching. Sad.

    • catsarerunnin
      8:32 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      He had plenty of reasons to have a meltdown. The Hogs got hosed.

    • donjohnson
      8:38 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      Why does everyone blame the coach when a team chokes it down at the end of game? They were not ready for the moment and looked she’ll shocked the last 2 minutes……the coach can’t fix that

    • ScoggDog
      8:40 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      If that officiating crew shows up to UK / UNC … sorry folks, but UK can’t win 5 vs. 8.

      Arkansas got screwed. Pure and simple. Flat out screwed.

    • roundball fool
      9:20 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      His team was obviously out of sync. They had the lead with 3 minutes left and couldn’t make a play. They had multiple possessions and ran into a brick wall. Over and over. Anderson should have called a timeout and reset. The refs didn’t lose it for Arkansas, Anderson did. Simple.

  5. scwhite9
    8:56 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    I love Bam’s mother. She is my kind of woman. I was so proud of our team for not responding back to the trash talk from the coach and the WS players.

  6. bradinmississippi
    9:14 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    Just gorgeous my ticket for friday… see all of you in Memphis try Tops BBQ it’s the best

    • bradinmississippi
      9:14 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      I meant got my ticket

  7. jaws2
    9:47 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    Why in the hell does Cal let Willis sit on the side waiting to get in for damn near 3 minutes while Gabriel throws up one brick up after another. He wasted 4 trips down the floor while Willis sat at the scorers table waiting to come in. F*ck waiting for a change in possession! Use a time out and get Willis on the court for God’s sake!!! Oh, and Dom should have played way more minutes in the second half. Again, this team saved Cal’s ass!.
    Look, I like Cal and all but his in game coaching leaves a lot to be desired. 3, 2, 1, ….Yea, sure I’m a troll for saying this. Cal damn near cost us another NCAA game.

    • catsarerunnin
      10:06 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      UK won.

    • AGSlater
      10:12 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      How dare you say something remotely negative. The ksr guys on here including me demand you take this back

    • 3wildcat3
      11:27 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      AG, nice of you to come out. I’m sorry we won, I know that bothers you. I just hope you find better things to do with your life if, god forbid, we win another game or two. I know it’s hard being you. When Cal gets fired for not winning every championship, I’m going to start a grassroots campaign to ensure you’re our next coach. Try and get some rest bruddah.

    • AGSlater
      11:37 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      I will. I take back what I said about SEC. Either they are better or ACC is whack

    • Eazy
      12:30 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

      SEC is getting better overall. UK is always really good obviously but it’s nice to see some other teams step up. ACC is having a bad year for sure. Cal has been to 4 of the last 6 final fours so it’s stupid to complain. I don’t hear Duke fans hammering K after today’s loss like some of us do when UK loses. And Cal hardly ever loses before the elite 8.

    10:41 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    They made the second weekend. Time to sit wenyon and unleash the secret weapon. It’s Sasha time

  9. Han
    11:18 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    Thrilled we’re still dancing.

    Icing on the cake:
    South Carolina just upset Duke.
    So no Duke, no Louisville.

    UCLA still at risk to Cincy tonight, too.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:28 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

      Referees pulled NC through against Arkansas, and the refs tried as best they could to rescue Duke, but to no avail. NCAA and it’s officials have to try to take care of their….chick$hit programs, Puke and North Carovagina.
      SEC 3 teams in
      ACC 1 team in..

  10. Han
    11:37 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    This day keeps getting better.

  11. maximumscott
    11:50 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    UCLA in Memphis. Lets hope blue packs it. Gonna be a different kind of game. We play better defense and we have a half court offense. Hopefully this game warmed monk up and he goes off!

  12. Lip Man 1
    11:58 pm March 19, 2017 Permalink

    What a perfect day. Kentucky win…Louisville and Duke both get their rear end’s handed to them.

    Can’t get much better than that.

  13. dballrb
    12:11 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

    That was a charge and traveling at the same time on Berry.The hogs an 1pt lead.Instead of free throws for the hogs,Berry bounced the ball of the glass and Meeks tipped it in and the mo shifted to NC. In the S.Carolina game,2 plain as day charges on Duke were called blocks which led to 5pts for Duke,difference here is the cocks hit their free throws and iced it..I once worked audio for live sporting events,and it was never a secret to anyone behind the sceens that the NCAA wants the Carolina teams to advance in the biggest games..It makes cents because it makes dollars..

    • plumloopy
      1:12 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

      I don’t know about a conspiracy but the refs did seem to choke time and time again all tournament.

  14. dballrb
    12:16 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

    AG,how’d you like those(game) cocks tonight Putting it hard to your 2nd favorite team

  15. BigBlueSwagger
    12:24 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

    I’m particularly happy that our region is only one left with it’s 1-4 seeds. Awesome. Thanks to the committee for yet another Big Blue Screw.

    Couldn’t agree more that Arkansas got jobbed by the refs– they did every thing they could the last 2 minutes of the game. Anderson should have calmed his team down in a timeout but they are an emotional team and they buckled with the pressure. Let’s hope this ref team doesn’t show up in Memphis….

    Chris Webber pissed me off saying duke was the better team. How insulting! What was he basing that on? Quantify your damn words. They’re losing. Say they don’t have as many burger boys, duke has a better record…. something! The announcers sounded more slanted than a slide.

    Finally, can the almighty ACC hype propelled by the media be stopped now? They have 1 (very good) team left standing out of 9 in the tourney. And it’s still the first weekend. Dear god I hope UNC doesn’t win it all or the chatter will start all over. I think UNC is heads above the rest of the ACC but I hope we get the opportunity to play (and beat) them again!

    • BluKudzu
      12:31 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

      Butler will beat them.

    • plumloopy
      1:10 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

      I hope we get the opportunity to play Butler.

  16. plumloopy
    1:10 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

    South Carolina scored 65 points in the second half. South Carolina. What is going on?

    Interesting that like in Indy, Duke and UNC fans shared the stands. Each could root against the other. The nice thing for the Cats was that UL had already lost and I’m sure their fans didn’t have as much to say.

  17. plumloopy
    1:19 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

    Also, SEC has three teams in the Sweet 16, as mentioned by many. But how about how hard fought the two losses were? If not for the mental lapse, Vandy had the odds to win their game and Arkansas fought impressively hard against UNC. Florida destroyed the 5 seed. If Wichita St was truly a 10 seed, UK is arguably playing the least impressively. However, I think WSU is a legit top 20 team so we deserve a little slack for the hard fought win.

    God, what I wouldn’t give for a relaxing blowout on Friday.

    Cal 6-0 in the round of 32 with UK.

  18. StuckinLville
    4:27 am March 20, 2017 Permalink

    He can’t be 6-0. We lost to Indiana last year in the round of 32.