(1) Kentucky vs. (8) Iowa State Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(1) Kentucky Wildcats
Coming off of just their second loss of the year in the SEC tournament championship, the Wildcats bounced back and made easy work of Western Kentucky 81-66. Terrence Jones was the best player on the floor, putting up 22 points 10 rebounds and two assists. He just barely outscored the Hilltoppers’ dynamic freshman T.J. Price, who scored a career-best 21. 16 of those came in the first half, though; the Wildcats did a good job of slowing him down in the second half. Anthony Davis did not disappoint in his tournament debut, contributing 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists and seven blocks. Other than struggling a bit from the three-point line, where they shot just 3-10, there was not much else the Wildcats could have done better. Their next challenge will be slowing down an Iowa State squad that looked terrific in dispatching the defending champion UConn Huskies. It will start with limiting Royce White’s impact and also require a repeat effort of what they did on the boards and taking care of the basketball against the Hilltoppers.
(8) Iowa State Cyclones
Fred Hoiberg could not have asked for a much better performance from his players in his first NCAA Tournament game as a head coach. They got off to a strong start, dominated the glass and made 19 of 20 from the free throw line en route to a 77-64 defeat of the defending champs. Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb hurt them in the backcourt, but they were the only ones to successfully attack the stout defense of the Cyclones. Royce White really shined for Hoiberg with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Allen’s 20 points led the way offensively, while Scott Christopherson matched White with 15 of his own. Against Kentucky the Cyclones are running into a team with even more talent than the Huskies. Not only are they more talented, but they are clicking on all cylinders and lockdown defensively. Rebounding is going to be key in this contest. If they Cyclones are going to have any hope of pulling off the upset and advancing to the Sweet 16, they’re going to have to get the Wildcats’ frontline in foul trouble and force their young backcourt to make mistakes.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Kentucky. Expect the Cyclones to put up a serious fight, but this Wildcats team is too good to go out in the Round of 32.
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