March Madness: Kentucky Hits Stride, Defeats West Virginia with Second-Half Run

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March Madness: Kentucky Hits Stride, Defeats West Virginia with Second-Half Run
J. Meric/Getty Images
Kentucky outscored West Virginia 38-22 in the second half en route to their second straight Sweet Sixteen apperance.

Last season, the Kentucky Wildcats were supposed to make some noise in March.

Loaded with four starting freshmen, including the future first overall pick of the 2010 NBA draft, John Wall, the Wildcats rolled into the Elite Eight, only to fall to the West Virginia Mountaineers, 73-66.

One year later and two rounds earlier, Kentucky got sweet revenge with a brand new set of freshmen, defeating the Mountaineers, 71-63 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the second straight season.

Freshman point guard Brandon Knight had a career-high 30 points, as Kentucky, which was losing 41-33 at halftime, outscored West Virginia 38-22 in the second half en route to a momentum-building victory. Kentucky started the second half with an 11-0 run to give itself a 44-41 lead.

Next, Kentucky will face the winner of the Ohio State-George Mason matchup.

More importantly, Kentucky, which showed its youth and inexperience in the narrow last-second win over Princeton, looked like a team on a mission with its dominant second half against West Virginia.

As the game wore on, Kentucky got stronger, blocked big shots, grabbed key rebounds and made its free throws, 17-of-24 in total.

Center Josh Harrellson grabbed eight rebounds, including four on the offensive glass, and is now 14-of-18 from the field in the tournament. Freshman Terrence Jones pulled a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go along with a pair of blocked shots.

In the end, the youthful Wildcats not only outplayed the Mountaineers, but also showed that they could be this year's team to fly under the radar and find themselves in the Final Four. 

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