Yes, Kentucky still lost to Gonzaga on Saturday night. And yes, it was another devastating defeat in what is becoming an unwelcome trend for John Calipari’s program as of late.
But we can still enjoy the fact that sophomore Adou Thiero was dunking all over the Bulldogs.
In 32 minutes of action, Thiero finished with 15 points (6-11 FG; 1-2 3PT), five rebounds, and three blocks in UK’s 89-85 loss to Gonzaga, including a slew of slams — four of them, actually — that got the Rupp Arena roaring as loud as it had been all season long. It was his best overall performance since the Kansas game all the way back on Nov. 14.
Let’s take a minute to respect it.
Thiero’s first dunk of the night came a little over two minutes into the game when freshman guard Reed Sheppard found him cutting baseline for a chin-raising slam (which he luckily didn’t get called for a technical foul on).
The second, and arguably the most emphatic, came just two minutes later when he followed up his own missed shot and forced through a one-handed dunk with his right paw. He jumped right over a pair of Gonzaga bigs on his way to the rim, too.
Less than a minute after that, his third ferocious finish also came off a missed shot, but not his own. This one happened after freshman Rob Dillingham‘s layup attempt went to the weak side, where Thiero timed his leap perfectly and sent another powerful slam through the net.
Adou Thiero is having a game. pic.twitter.com/D9RBgl3BEm— Rare Rookies #BBN (@rarerookies) February 10, 2024
But it was his fourth and final dunk that nearly sent the Rupp Arena crowd into orbit. With 10 minutes left in the second half, Thiero was fed a perfect lob pass from fifth-year guard Antonio Reeves during a fastbreak that he had no problem shoving down the rim.
That bucket extended Kentucky’s lead to four, 62-58, at the time, and felt like a significant momentum shifter until Gonzaga ultimately came back down the stretch.
Would we like to be talking about all of these highlight plays after a win instead of a loss? Of course, but there’s still some joy to be had.