CLEVELAND — As described by teammate Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky forward Trey Lyles is a throwback.
"He definitely plays an old man's game," Cauley-Stein said Friday by way of complimenting Lyles. "Plays angles and knows how to use his body. You can't really teach it. It's something you acquire over time."
Lyles has been especially productive lately. He's scored 10 or more points in four of UK's last five games.
When told of Cauley-Stein's old-man description, Lyles smiled.
"Just play at my own pace," he said. "Fundamentally sound. Don't get sped up too much."
Lyles credited his father Tom's influence.
Cauley-Stein reluctantly likened Lyles' playing style to a current NBA icon.
"I hate to say this to Trey," he said wincing. "Kind of like how Kobe (Bryant) plays. Plays angles."
Bryant is Lyles' favorite player.
"I watch him a lot," Lyles said. "I watch his workout tapes and highlights."
Another role model is Tim Duncan.
"Real smooth," Cauley-Stein said of Duncan and Lyles. "Real elegant. You'd think they're kind of slow. When you play against them, you know they're not slow. They know exactly what they're doing."
Going to Towns?
Karl-Anthony Towns looked on the bright side of not making a shot in Kentucky's victory over West Virginia.
"Not many people in the country can go and have a game like I had and be able to play in the Elite Eight," Towns said.
Not that Towns' quiet night jeopardized UK's chances of winning. His one point increased the Cats' lead from 36 to 37 points.
That reflected "just how talented our team is," Devin Booker said.
No individual player shoulders the burden of victory or defeat.
"That's been the story of our team the whole year," Booker said. "I'm sure (Towns scoring one point) won't happen again the rest of the year."
Cauley-Stein agreed. "I expect him to do big things the next game," he said of Towns.
Booker noted that giving up a three-point shot is considered a "sin" within the UK team.
Other sins include lack of effort, failure to run the floor and catching the ball with one hand," he said.
Pat Connaughton is one of two senior starters for Notre Dame. The Irish also start a junior.
Maybe that's why Connaughton corrected himself when he first referred to the "kids" that play for Notre Dame.
Of his belief that the Irish can play three more games, he said, "The men on this team feel the same way."
Connaughton, who is 6-5, said he enjoys surprising people athletically.
"Something people have always said to me is 'You're deceptive athletically,'" he said. "I always think, 'Why is it deceptive?'
"I always enjoy bringing that 'whoa' to people's faces. When you do something they're not sure you can do."
Connaughton produced a "whoa" by dunking on Duke's Jabari Parker last season.
"When someone doesn't believe you can do something, it almost makes it more important for you to do it."
Of course, Connaughton hopes to explore more than one option as a pro athlete: baseball as well as basketball. He said he's been told for years that his athletic future is in baseball, but he refuses to give up the option of playing pro basketball.
"I'm not going to burn that bridge before I cross it," he said. "I'd be doing a disservice to myself to burn the basketball bridge before I cross that bridge and see what's on the other side."
■ The 39-point rout of West Virginia enabled Kentucky to tie the NCAA Tournament record for margin of victory in a Sweet 16 game. Louisville beat Arizona by 39 in 2009. UK has the next two biggest margins of victory in a Sweet 16 game: 34 points over Wake Forest in 1993 and 31 points over Utah in 1996.
■ Kentucky has advanced to eight Final Fours and won three national championships since Notre Dame last played in an Elite Eight game in 1979.
■ Trivia question: If Notre Dame loses, Kentucky will have ended its season outside the Final Four only once in the last five years. The team that beat UK: Robert Morris in the 2013 NIT.