NCAA Basketball

2011 March Madness: Kentucky Barely Gets Past Princeton

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Brandon Knight waited until the two-second mark of the second half to record his first field goal of the game, but it was the game winner as Kentucky barely squeaked out a victory over Princeton, 59-57, in the first round of the NCAA Tourney.

Well, it wasn’t pretty, but they found a way to win. At this point in the season, isn’t that all that matters?

You win. You play on Saturday. You lose. You go home. As poor as Kentucky played, I’d much rather be in their situation than that red team down I-65.

Tied at 57 with 30 seconds to go, John Calipari decided to go with his freshman leader despite the fact that he had sat the bench in the second half way more than he was accustomed to. He went to him despite being 0-for-7 from the floor. And Knight delivered as he dribbled off the right hash to the rim and laid it in with his right hand as the clock ticked down to two seconds.

Following a timeout, Princeton launched a three-quarter court heave at the buzzer, which fell harmless to the ground, as Kentucky advanced.

As much has been said about the freshman, Kentucky won this game because of their upperclassmen. Darius Miller was the most consistent scorer, Josh Harrellson was the best big man on the court, and Deandre Liggins played lockdown defense along with knocking down some huge shots down the stretch.

Miller took advantage of his size and athleticism and consistently was able to score off the bounce and on the block. He finished with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He was 2-for-6 from deep. He also had four rebounds and three assists.

Harrellson did what Harrellson does best. He consistently put himself in position to score the basketball and his teammates took advantage. He was 7-for-8 from the floor and finished with his eighth double-double of the year with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Knight wasn’t the only freshman who struggled as they all seemed a bit overwhelmed by the lights of the NCAA Tournament. Lamb had seven points, but was relatively quiet.

My frustration with Terrence Jones continued the entire game. Despite being 30-plus games into the season, he is just immature. There is no denying that he has the ability to be one of the best players in the country. That is why many slate him to be a Top 5 NBA Draft pick. But, where is the consistency? You can’t react like you won a championship every time you score and then disappear for 12 strait possessions.

Jones finished with 10 points and just two rebounds. TWO!!!! Overall, Kentucky was outrebounded, 27-25.

Another reason why Princeton had a chance to win this thing is because they controlled the tempo. The Wildcats ran their stupid slow game. A lot of that can be credited to Princeton, but on offense Kentucky consistently just ran Knight and Lamb off of picks to get them shots.

The 59 points on the game is their lowest point total of the season. The previous low was 64 in a 64-58 win at Tennessee. Kentucky only scored in the 60′s eight times this year and they were 4-4 in those games. 59 points is nearly 18 points lower than their season average of 76.4.

But, they won and now play West Virginia on Saturday. Remember, in the SEC Tournament when they revenged losses to Ole Miss and ‘Bama. Well, the Revenge Tour continues as they get the Mountaineers back for their causing 2010 departure.

Oh, and I hate Princeton’s Orange Man fan. He’s fat and looks like an idiot.