The Louisville Cardinals made Kentucky look more like underclassmen and less like NBA first-rounders.
Against Gorgui Dieng’s post presence and a relentless defense, the Wildcats were legitimately challenged for the first time in its blitzkrieg run through the NCAA tournament Saturday night. Despite shooting over 57 percent from the field and maintaining its lead for all but the opening 17 seconds, Kentucky was unable to push its lead to double digits for the final 12:43 of the game. Even more surprising, the Cardinals out-rebounded the Wildcats 37-32, forced Michael Kidd-Gilchrist into foul trouble, and held Terrance Jones to just six points on 3-8 shooting.
Conclusion? When facing the right matchup, Kentucky isn’t as dominant under the basket as it seems.
While Anthony Davis finished with his usual double-double numbers (18 pts, 14 reb) and five blocks, his fellow front court players nearly cost the team its dream season. Matched against the imposing post duo of Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey, there might be riots in Lexington for an entirely different reason Monday night.
Both Robinson and Withey won their respective matchups against the Buckeyes, with Robinson dropping 18 points and eight rebounds on Deshaun Thomas while Withey’s seven blocks kept Jared Sullinger uncomfortable and out of sync (Sullinger shot just 5-19 from the field).
In the game before, Robinson and Withey dominated the low post against arguably the best front line in the nation. The two combined for 33 points and 17 rebounds, with Withey adding three blocks to the Jayhawks 13-point win over top seed North Carolina.
Coupled with Kentucky’s poor shooting from the foul line, Kansas will force the Wildcats to win with three-pointers and mid-range jumpers. If Doron Lamb can’t have the performance of a lifetime, John Calipari may once again come up short against Bill Self.