Kentucky gets revenge, dispatches Indiana 102-90

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 23, 2012 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

ATLANTA — Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist predicted Kentucky and Indiana would stage an entertaining NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game here Friday night.

"It'll be a fun game to watch for you all," he told reporters Thursday.

Out of the mouth of a babe and onto the Georgia Dome court.

Making those practices a month ago without Anthony Davis seem prescient, Kentucky outlasted Indiana 102-90.

Foul trouble limited Davis' usual dominating impact. But other UK players more than compensated.

Kidd-Gilchrist, who had scored 16 points in the last three games, led Kentucky with 24, which tied a career high.

"Mike's a spectacular player," Davis said. "Coach Cal told him to go out and rebound the ball. That's what he did."

Kidd-Gilchrist also made 10 of 10 free throws to lead Kentucky to a 35-for-37 performance from the foul line. That marked the program's second-best NCAA Tournament accuracy, bested only by an 18-for-18 game against Utah in 2003.

Doron Lamb scored 21 points, Darius Miller 19, Marquis Teague 14 and Terrence Jones 12.

Davis finished with nine points (snapping a streak of six straight games in double digits), 12 rebounds and three blocks.

The 102 points marked UK's most productive offensive night in the NCAA Tournament since a 110-72 victory over San Jose State in 1996.

Kentucky (35-2) advanced to Sunday's South Regional finals. The Cats will play Baylor at 2:20 p.m. EDT for a berth in the Final Four.

"It was a war," Calipari said of Friday's game.

When asked whether it took too much out of Kentucky, Calipari said, "When you're playing at this time of year, you have more energy than you need."

Indiana finished its return-to-prominence season with a 27-9 record.

"There's always sadness, tremendous sadness," IU Coach Tom Crean said, "and it hits you later on. There's a lot more sadness when your team and players realize they had something left (to give). The Indiana men, quote me, the Indiana men, the mighty men, they gave it all. They left it all on that court."

Christian Watford, whose three-pointer at the buzzer beat Kentucky in December, led Indiana with 27 points. Cody Zeller added 20.

When asked whether he could have imagined losing a game in which his team made 52.2 percent of its shots, Crean said, "I wouldn't imagine a free-throw discrepancy of 20."

Given Kentucky's ballyhooed roster of NBA prospects, it seemed fitting that Davis spent much of the first half between two pros.

Unfortunately for UK, those NBA types were assistant coaches Kenny Payne and Rod Strickland.

Davis sat out the final 14:05 of the first half after picking up two early fouls. That made UK's 50-47 halftime lead look huge.

When asked about practicing without Davis, Calipari said, "I think it helped us; I think it helped us coaches. If you're in panic mode, they can feel it."

It helped Kentucky's cause that Zeller got hit with two fouls in a seven-second span. That sent him to the bench for much of the final 13:23.

Other Cats picked up the slack as evidenced by UK's highest-scoring first half since a 52-25 romp at South Carolina on Feb. 4.

Jones and Kidd-Gilchrist led the way. Jones, who matched his two baskets at Indiana in the game's first 62 seconds, led the Cats with 12 first-half points. Kidd-Gilchrist added 11, including a three-point play with 49.1 seconds left that broke a 45-45 tie.

Indiana went to Zeller early in a naked attempt to again get Davis in foul trouble. As in Bloomington, it worked. Davis looked puzzled when he picked up his first foul for jockeying in the post with Zeller 24 seconds after the tip.

Although Zeller contorted his body more than once in an attempt to draw another foul on Davis, it didn't come until the 14:05 mark. Davis got the foul for trying to contest Victor Oladipo's layup attempt. Deuces were wild for Davis, who exited with two points, two rebounds and two blocks, as well as two fouls.

"My teammates told me I was fine," Davis said. "... I came out in the second half with the same intensity I planned to come out in the first half."

Those fouls dulled the excitement of Jones' start. He swished a three-pointer to begin the scoring, then hit a jumper from the left side.

Making seven of its first 10 shots, Kentucky zipped to a 16-11 lead.

The margin grew to as much as 31-22 when UK answered Watford's first basket five seconds later with Jones' fast-break dunk off a lob from Teague.

That prompted an Indiana timeout with 9:55 left in the half and the reinsertion of Zeller into the game. The Hoosiers went immediately to Zeller, who made two free throws to slow UK's momentum.

Watford took over from there, scoring 15 points inside the final six minutes. His drive gave IU its largest lead of the first half, 43-39, with 3:30 left.

Jones picked up his third foul at the 17:57 mark of the second half. Miller quelled any anxiety by hitting a pair of three-pointers while scoring eight straight points. Each of his threes led to an eight-point lead for Kentucky.

But Indiana wouldn't go down easily. Four times, UK took eight-point leads before the margin grew to double digits. Davis, who was fouled on a fourth-chance opportunity, made two free throws to put the Cats ahead 74-64 with 10:26 left.

Offensive rebounding paid off big for Kentucky. Putbacks by Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis widened the margin to 79-66 with 8:57 left.

Indiana, which squandered a nine-point lead in the final eight minutes against UK in Bloomington, mounted the rally this time. Watford and Zeller brought the Hoosiers within five, 82-77. More than five minutes remained.

But two Lamb free throws and a drive by Miller pointed Kentucky toward a hard-earned victory.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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