Five Reasons Not to Overreact to Kentucky’s Close Win
The Wildcats finally kicked off the NCAA Tournament last night and they knocked off Northern Kentucky to advance to the round of 32. There is no doubt that the nine point win was not the kind of performance that the team wanted to have or that BBN wanted to see. It is easy to make a knee jerk reaction and assume that the Cats will be bounced from the tourney very soon. Here are five reasons that I think fans need to consider before making any proclamations about the season.
- Late tip-off– The game ended up not tipping off until 10:07pm, which means that Kentucky sat around all day long waiting to play a team that they were supposed to easily beat. On top of that they played Friday night which meant that they also sat through watching a lot of tournament games on Thursday as they awaited their chance to get on the floor. All that waiting is not easy and can certainly affect how a team plays. It is not as much of an issue for Northern Kentucky because they were waiting to play the biggest game of their lives.
- Game was not as close as the score-With just 3 minutes left in the game Kentucky held a 14 point lead. Northern Kentucky went on a run and made a couple of 3’s to end up losing just by 9. Things could have easily went the other direction and the Cats could have won by 18 or 19 points. There was never a time that the game was in question which is the most important thing. It is just hard to keep the foot on the gas against a team that has inferior talent.
- Malik Monk saved getting hot– A fear I had before the game was that Monk would waste a red-hot game in the tournament opener. The hope would be that he would get it going starting on Sunday and put together a magical five game run. He is a confident kid that will get it going sooner rather than later.
- De’Aaron Fox is playing great– The Cats point guard is playing as well, if not better than he has all season long. He is almost unstoppable of the dribble and his shot continues to look much better. For the last four games he has been Kentucky’s most dangerous player and a huge problem for opponents. He should be a huge factor against the Shockers on Sunday.
- Bam is dominating– He grabbed 18 rebounds last night which was the most for a Kentucky player in the NCAA tournament since 1956. There are not many teams that have an interior presence like Bam. The better he plays the more it leads to open shots for Monk and Willis, as well as driving lanes for Fox and Briscoe. The main key for Bam has been and continues to be staying out of foul trouble. If he can do that against Wichita State they should not have much in terms of an answer for him.
Survive and advance is a cliché but it became a cliché because it is true. There is only one way to stay alive and that is by winning one game at a time no matter what the margin of victory is. This team got a nice wake up call last night and that should work in their favor on Sunday. In the mean time enjoy some basketball on television and head up to Indy to root on the Cats tomorrow afternoon.