5 Things We Learned in Kentucky's Win over Indiana
Kentucky was given an opportunity to avenge one of their two losses against Indiana tonight. The Wildcats did just that, and in impressive fashion.
Indiana took a 73-72 win in December on a buzzer-beater. This one wasn't decided at the horn, but it was a thoroughly entertaining and competitive college basketball game.
Both teams shot the ball well, got to the rim, converted free-throws, defended, rebounded and showed all out effort for 40 minutes.
Despite a valiant effort by the Hoosiers, Kentucky managed to take the victory and earn a spot in the Elite Eight.
1. Seniors Are Still Relevant
For a coach who makes his name on one-and-done prospects, a rare thing has occurred. A senior has been a key contributor.
Darius Miller played a tremendous game tonight, going for 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-2 on threes.
Miller showed great offensive versatility, hitting from deep, from mid-range and getting to the basket.
He hit two big threes early in the second half that helped stretch the lead. The Wildcats never really looked back. With Draymond Green and Robbie Hummel out of the field, Miller may be the feel good story of the tournament.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Is NBA Ready
So Michael Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't have a threatening outside shot. He has everything else though.
He has an NBA combination of size, strength and athleticism, and he is a decent shooter from inside the arc.
He is also tremendous at getting the ball to the rim, finishing from in close and generating contact. He also has a rare desire on the floor—doing whatever it takes to help his team win.
Kidd-Gilchrist isn't just an offensive force either. He is a lock-down perimeter defender and a great rebounder for his position.
In the win over Indiana he was unstoppable, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Kidd-Gilchrist made his intentions known early, but he is ready for the pros.
3. Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo Can Play
It was a tough loss for the Hoosiers, but a great game. On a night when Kentucky lit up the scoreboard, Indiana went blow for blow for over 35 minutes.
Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford were a huge part of that success. Everyone knows about Cody Zeller, but the two swingmen were outstanding.
Watford carried the Hoosier offense in the first half while Zeller was in foul trouble. He scored 27 points, grabbed five rebounds while adding two blocks and a steal.
Oladipo showed a highly proficient ability to take defenders off the dribble, get to the basket and finish over, around and through defenders.
He finished the game with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Zeller may make the leap after this season, but Indiana will be in good hands with Oladipo and Watford.
4. It Takes a Herculean Effort to Beat the Wildcats
You really can't play much better than Indiana did tonight, and the Hoosiers still went home on the wrong end of a 102-90 decision.
Indiana shot 52.2 percent from the field, 76.5 percent from the line, only turned the ball over eight times and put up 90 points. Not many teams have done that in the tournament.
In the December victory, Indiana shot 9-of-15 on threes compared to just 5-of-18 tonight. The Hoosiers also managed a combined 39 points on second chances and turnovers in the early-season upset.
Tonight, Indiana managed just 23 such points. Kentucky was just too good in too many areas. Even with Anthony Davis sitting for the final 14 minutes of the first half, the Wildcats were just too talented.
Indiana played a great game, but Kentucky just proved how dominant it is.
5. This Is John Calipari's Best Shot at a Title
John Calipari has long been known for fielding some of the most talented college teams.
He had Marcus Camby at Massachusetts. He had Derrick Rose at Memphis. He previously had John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.
He's been to three Final Fours, whether the NCAA recognizes them or not, and he has been the tournament runner-up. His teams have generally been favored to win and this season is no different.
What is different is this: Kentucky has vastly superior talent to any other team in the nation. The Wildcats have size, athleticism, shooting, rebounding, ball-handling and defending. A lot of teams can perform in these areas, but the most impressive part is that the team has bought into it completely.
For such a talented group of individuals, they play incredibly unselfish and with a relentless desire to win together. No matter who Kentucky plays, there will be an advantage for the Wildcats to exploit somewhere on the floor.
Kentucky may not be the last team standing, but there has been no other Calipari team with this much depth and talent that played such a cohesive game. Calipari haters should be ready to turn the channel.