Brandon Priddy writes for The Smoking Musket, West Virginia’s SB Nation site, but he’s also →
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 2:00am
Not since March 26th, 1949 has a team failed to score 40 points in an NCAA Tournament game against the Kentucky Wildcats. That’s what happens when you run your mouth, I guess, which West Virginia did a lot this week. Bob Huggins said he was okay with the trash talking, downplaying the notion it fueled Kentucky’s players to play harder. “That’s a bunch of BS,” Huggins said, when asked if he thought UK used his Mountaineers’ words as motivation.
Whether the talking did or didn’t add to the fire, Kentucky played like a team that was out for blood. The Cats dominated from the opening tip en route to a 44-18 halftime score and on to the 39-point win. That’s not how Sweet 16 games are to be played, FYI. It tied the record for largest margin of victory in the Sweet 16 and was only the second time in history a team doubled up its opponent in a regional semifinal or later. Again, it was a whoopin’.
Oh, and it was all done without Karl Towns, the future No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Towns scored one point and grabbed two rebounds in 13 minutes of action. Calipari said, “We know how good Karl is and he feels bad about how he played, but he’d feel great for his teammates but he needs to have a presence.”
Kentucky did get big games from just about everyone else, including Dakari Johnson, who reached double figures for the first time since mid-February. He was joined by four other Wildcats — Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker — with double digits in the scoring column.
As for the opponent, West Virginia shot 24 percent from the field — the lowest by any team in a Sweet 16 game, ever — and had only two players with more than six points. Daxter Miles, Mr. Guarantee, added zero to the scoring column. He went 0-for-3 from the field in the game he was certain Kentucky would lose.
Up next for the Wildcats is Notre Dame for a spot in the Final Four. The Irish are the complete opposite of what Kentucky saw in West Virginia tonight. Mike Brey’s team has one of the best offenses in the country but doesn’t defend, so buckle up for a high-scoring contest.
And don’t worry, Aaron Harrison’s finger is fine.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 1:40am
Right after the game, Devin Booker tweeted “36 and won,” a great take on Daxter Miles’ 36-1 shot at the Cats yesterday. The tweet was a popular topic in the locker room tonight, but Dakari Johnson said he came up with it first.
“Nah! I came up with it,” Dakari said, interrupting Booker’s interviews. “I’ll let him take the credit though. I’ll let him take the credit.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 1:28am
It was another happy locker room tonight, and in yet another example of how loose and fun this team is, Willie Cauley-Stein broke out the team Twitter Mirror to capture the pool of reporters around him. Making this picture may be my proudest moment as a media member.
Before he took the picture of all of us, Willie had a lot to say about the Cats’ dominating performance. Yesterday, Daxter Miles said he doesn’t think the Cats play hard. I reminded Willie of that and asked him how hard he thought his team played tonight.
“I don’t think we played hard enough, personally.” Willie quipped, smiling. “I think we played pretty well. That was one of our better games, when we was up by a lot staying focused and staying on it, what we wanted to do. I think we did pretty well.” Understatement of century?
Typical Willie, he got more wound up about West Virginia’s trash talk as he kept talking. “Teams talk. Like coach said, you’ve gotta step in the ring sometime. You gotta throw the ball up,” Willie said. “Teams are better off saying nothing to try to catch us off guard instead of talking cash (yes he said cash). Now we ready. We was ready to play last night. Come into the game, we was ready to go.”
Every player I interviewed said the trash talk was a big topic yesterday and this morning. “We were joking around with each other. They were saying we don’t play hard and we were like, ‘maybe they should play hard,'” Tyler Ulis said. “We’re winning and we’re just trying to keep it going and the trash talk just pumped us up and we came out and did what we’ve gotta do.”
“Everybody was juiced up,” Dakari said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement and after all the talking they were doing, we didn’t really do that much talking. We just let our play do the talking. I think that made a statement.”
When I asked Dakari if he thought Kentucky “played hard,” he joked “We was only at 50%…haha, no I’m just playing.”
You might not be, actually.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 1:16am
EJ Floreal is really going after a career in television. EJ once again took over the KSTV camera in the locker room, interviewing Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis. Even though Floreal was right in front of him, it took Ulis over a minute to realize he was there. Watch EJ ask Tyler about his almost dunk:
Yeah, these guys aren’t having ANY fun.
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 1:02am
Bob Huggins said Kentucky was on and his team was not and that’s how the end result was a 39-point blowout. Part of the reason his team couldn’t get it going, he says, was Kentucky’s defense, maybe the best he’s ever seen in college basketball.
“They’re terrific defensively,” Huggins said in his postgame press conference. “That’s the best defensive team I think that I’ve ever coached against. And when they’re making shots, and they made shots today, when they make shots, there’s nobody going to beat them when they make shots like that.”
Huggy Bear believes UK’s D is what separates this bunch from the 2010 Wildcats, the team his Mountaineers upset in the Elite Eight.
“I don’t think that team guarded the way this team guards,” he said. “I think that’s the difference. I think this team is absolutely fantastic defensively.”
Kentucky will need that defense in the next round against one of the nation’s best offenses in Notre Dame. It’ll be a goodin’.
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 12:53am
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 12:47am
Think the players didn’t notice West Virginia’s yapping before the game?
Oh they noticed.
Aaron Harrison, who favorited several tweets about Miles’ comment, told reporters he doesn’t feel sorry for Miles right now. “He shouldn’t have said that,” Aaron said in the locker room.
Devin Booker and Andrew Harrison responded on Twitter with not-so subtle shots:
Lot of talkn lot of tweetin till they……..play
— Andrew Harrison (@DrewRoc5) March 27, 2015
36 and won
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) March 27, 2015
Moral of the story: Don’t poke the bear.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 12:15am
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 12:10am
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 12:05am
By Drew Franklin on ©March 27th, 2015 @ 12:02am
By Drew Franklin on ©March 26th, 2015 @ 9:29pm
Trey Lyles caught a glimpse of himself on the big screen while standing in the tunnel near the end of the Notre Dame-Wichita State game. So, Trey Lyles did what anyone would do in that situation: he made the most of his camera time.
— John Yahnig (@thejohnyahnig) March 27, 2015
Notre Dame defeated Wichita State to move on to face Kentucky on Saturday — I mean, the winner of the Kentucky-West Virginia game.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©March 26th, 2015 @ 8:09pm