How Sweet it Is!
The University of Kentucky Men’s basketball team is headed to Atlanta for the South Regional. The Wildcats defeated the Buffalo Bulls 95-75 in front of a tough crowd at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise, ID. With the Bulls dispatching 4 seed Arizona on Thursday and the epic UMBC victory over overall number 1 seed Virginia, a crowd that would have been impartial became thirsty for another upset. But it wasn’t meant to be. Kentucky led 51-42 at the half and even though Buffalo made a run in the second half to close the gap to within 5, the Cats never faltered.
What do we know?
Hamidou Diallo was fantastic against Buffalo. The Big Blue Nation has had a love/hate relationship with Diallo for most of the season. He went stretches this year not playing very good basketball. Head coach John Calipari had to give him some tough love and some not so tough love. Diallo fought through it and delivered his best game as a Wildcat: 22 points on 9-12 shooting with 8 rebounds. He was active on both ends of the court and showed everyone what he’s capable of doing.
Grab your thesaurus because we’re running out of superlatives for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He finished with 27 points on 10-12 shooting, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. When the Bulls made their second half push, he answered. With the Cats in foul trouble and on the verge of faltering, he answered. He answered the bell time and time again for the Cats and is etching is name on the list of great Calipari coached freshmen point guards.
Wenyen Gabriel had a double-double, posting 16 points and 12 rebounds. SGA wasn’t alone in keeping the Cats afloat. Gabriel continued his active play from the SEC Tournament, rebounding and scoring (3-5 from three point range). And by adding 2 blocks, he continued to show that this isn’t a freshman only team.
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero.
The Cats are heading to Atlanta and the Big Blue Nation should be there. Buffalo’s head coach, Nate Oats, made some waves on Friday by saying that Calipari was “whining.” Buffalo players insisted that they were going to show Kentucky something. UK assistant coach Kenny Payne and every player stated that the trash talking was a big time motivator.
Looking back on the 4 game losing streak and where this team was then, it’s so sweet to look at where they are and, well, smile. A lot of people, including some in the BBN wrote this team off. But, per the Coach Cal way, this team is playing its best basketball ball in March. With potential matchups with Arizona, Virginia and Tennessee spoiled, the Cats could be heading to Atlanta and using it as a pitstop to San Antonio.