Behanan bullies Kentucky’s frontcourt
by Jason Frakes, USA TODAY Sports
No one could keep Chane Behanan quiet on Saturday.
Not the University of Kentucky’s freshman front line of 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein and 6-10 Nerlens Noel, both of whom had a significant height advantage over the 6-6 Behanan.
And not University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who lifted Behanan’s season-long ban from the media after the Cardinals’ 80-77 victory over UK.
“He had a great game,” Pitino said during his postgame news conference before turning to U of L sports information director Kenny Klein. “Let him talk, OK? Please tell him to settle down if he gets too carried away. Tell him not to say anything. We have a lot of games coming up.”
And with U of L set to open Big East Conference play against Providence on Wednesday, Behanan appears to be at the top of his game.
He hit 8 of 13 shots – including five dunks – and posted 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot to help the Cardinals snap a four-game losing streak to the Wildcats. He committed just one turnover while playing a team-high 35 minutes.
With 6-11 center Gorgui Dieng limited to 20 minutes of action, Behanan said he had to be the aggressor against UK’s big men.
“Usually when they say they’re 7-footers, they’re like 6-8 or 6-9 … but these two were legit 7 feet, 6-11,” Behanan said. “I just had to adjust to it as the game went on and find open spots.”
Behanan scored 11 points as the Cardinals built a 36-28 halftime lead, and he had two thunderous dunks in the final minute to help seal the victory.
The first came after a missed defensive assignment left him wide-open following a timeout, giving U of L a 77-70 lead with 44 seconds left. After his steal and dunk with 18 seconds left made it 80-74, he blew a kiss toward the crowd.
“Whoever looked at me, that was for you all,” Behanan said when asked if the kiss was for anyone specific. “A little shockwave went through me. I was happy we got this victory, not just for our team but … [For more on Louisville's Chane Behanan bullies Kentucky's frontcourt, click here.]