All in all, huge game and a huge win for Kentucky. The theme from the weekend was Kentucky playing to their potential. They started off a little shakey with Ole Miss but we saw them refuse to give up the lead and win going away. That momentum carried on through the Alabama and Florida games, and this team is beginning to play their best basketball at the right time of the season. What happens in conference tournaments can sometimes fool you when you get into the NCAA’s, but the fact that this team avenged two losses and dominated the number 12 team in the nation on their path to a championship (with injuries,) says a lot regardless of the event.
Some quick notes before we get to the Selection Show.
—Congratulations to Brandon Knight for making the all tournament team as a freshmen. Knight got off to a slow start in Atlanta, but by the end of the tourney he was dominating. He finished today’s game with 17 points, 4 assists and only 2 turnovers, and carried the team early offensively. When Knight came in this year he looked uncomfortable playing the point, but Calipari has him playing like a general, getting points when we need them and threading the needle for easy buckets.
—Knight wasn’t alone on the all tournament team though, as he was joined by Darius Miller – the tournament MVP. Miller had a huge weekend and is a few games away from me being fully convinced he is the player we always knew he was. He is providing leadership and consistency in bounds. A number of times today Kentucky was in need of a basket and Darius took it inside, shot his floater and nailed it, giving a boost to the rest of the team. I’m really excited to see how he continues to develop over the next month (and the next year.) Great signs from the Kentucky kid.
—And the final Kentucky player on the all tournament team? Josh Harrellson. His is a story you’re all familiar with by now, but it’s nonetheless a great one. From Billy recruit to almost off the team, to spotty minutes to almost off the team, to SEC All Tournament team. Josh is an example of what hard work and dedication will do for you. When the season started it looked like our hopes for a fun post season would start and end with Enes’s elligibility, but Jorts has got us asking ‘Enes who?’ and loving it. He is consistently making the extra effort plays, getting rebounds and put backs like nobodies business, and we love him for it.
—The Injury Bug that bit Kentucky yesterday didn’t seem to have too much of an effect, as both Deandre and Doron played solid minutes today. Both played solid defense, and while Lamb only contributed 6 points – quite a few off his average – he looked aggressive and in control, barely favoring his ankle if at all. Gotta give huge props to the trainers for getting him ready to play today and let’s hope he can be 100% by this weekend.
—Terrence Jones, while he didn’t have the greatest tournament, played a pretty good game today. He had 16 points, including making the three he attempts every couple games, and three huge blocks early in the game that seemed to scare Florida out of the paint for a little while. Gotta give Jones credit for bringing the effort and the finesse today, something that was missing as of late. Great sign to see from him.
—Eloy Vargas must hate the Florida Gators. He has had about five really positive games this year, and three of them were against the Gators. He played big for a few minutes today, getting fouled, hitting free throws and pulling down 4 boards. Some nice, positive signs from Eloy always makes a win that much sweeter.
—While we won’t know our tournament seeding for a few more hours, it seems likely that we have secured that number 3 seed with the win today. There is still plenty of movement that could be done, but if Kentucky is passed over for a 3 seed it would be shocking – at least to me. There is even an argument (albeit a very unlikely one that I will probably get yelled at for even bringing up,) that they should be considered for a 2 seed. Unlikely and if I had to bet money on it I’d go three seed by far, but look at the numbers. Kentucky’s SoS and RPI are both up to number 9 after the win today, and according to Lunardi’s latest bracketology, they hold wins over a 1 seed (ND), 2 over a 3 seed (Florida), a 4 seed on the road (Louisville,) a 5 seed (Vandy,) and a 7 seed (Washington.) Their two out of conference losses came against two seeds on the road (UNC and UConn.) Of course, this is all subject to change, but it’s interesting either way. And obviously we have a lot of ugly road losses, but hey, there aren’t any road games in the NCAA’s (unless you’re in Dukes bracket.)
We’ll have more throughout the day, including the brackets as they are announced and a first look preview at the first round opponent.
It’s a good day to be a Wildcat.