Fast Break: Cats close strong to finish off Cards

March 31, 2012 

Kyle Wiltjer (33) of the Kentucky Wildcats signals a 3 point shot in the semifinal game of the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

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Talking points

This game was strikingly close to the first matchup. UK hit four straight shots, led 8-2 and Rick Pitino called a timeout at 17:34. UK opened with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist guarding Cardinals point guard Peyton Siva. UK's inside defense gave U of L fits, and UK was up 16-6 and the pace was furious. Momentum shifted as the UK lead slipped to 31-28. UK scored four straight for a 35-28 halftime lead. Darius Miller jumpstarted UK early in the second half for a 45-32 lead. The Cards took control of the boards and UK's lead was 46-42 at 11:25. UK began missing foul shots, and Siva tied it at 49 with 9:10 left. UK's defense picked it up and kept U of L without a field goal for 6:20 and the Cats pulled out to a 62-53 lead.

Telling numbers

■ In the first game, UK outrebounded the Cards 57-31. Louisville outrebounded UK 40-33 Saturday.

■ Kidd-Gilchrist, the star of the first matchup, had two fouls at the 13:47 mark. He sat the rest of the first half.

■ UK started 7-for-8 from the field; U of L started 4-for-14.

■ The Cards took 20 more shots than UK.

■ UK committed six offensive fouls.

■ Both teams made only one three-pointer the first half. UK made two for the game.

■ Starting UK forwards Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones combined for two points in the first 30 minutes.

■ First game was 69-62; this one 69-61.

■ UK hit 57.2 percent against the nation's third-best defense.

■ UK, an excellent foul-shooting team most of the year, made 11 of 20.

Thumbs up

■ Those freshman are talented but it was graybeard Darius Miller who stepped up when needed most for UK.

■ The nation saw why Davis is Player of the Year. Remember when all he did was dunk? He missed one shot, scored in a variety of ways, and controlled the paint.

■ Kyle Wiltjer gave UK a needed lift off the bench in the first half.

■ A gutsy performance by Rick Pitino and his Cardinals team.

■ Great atmosphere. Great game. A weekend of basketball Kentuckians will forever remember.

Thumbs down

■ Getting pushed around on the boards almost cost UK the game.

■ Free throw shooting needs to be better Monday night.

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