It was the same old story we’ve heard all season; Darius Miller had once again disappeared in a game. Going 0-6 from the field and 0-3 from the three point line, it looked like Kentucky would once again suffer offensively because of ‘Disappearus Miller’.
With Kentucky only up two in the waning minutes of the second half and West Virginia rallying, Miller took a shot with the score reading 55-57. It hit nothing but net. Miller had been guilty of letting his confidence falter in these situations, but not this time. Even if he was 0-6 from the field, he knocked the bottom out. After a barrage of free throws from Brandon Knight to bring his point total to a whopping 30 points, the game was over and the Cats extend the revenge tour.
Enough can’t be said about Knight. He seemed to take the poor showing against Princeton personally because he came out with an attitude that said ‘you can’t guard me’ and West Virginia couldn’t. Knight came out and hit two straight threes and afterwards was pounding his chest and yelling, that’s when you know a player is hot and boy was he ever. He forced the issue several times early and by the end of the game he wound up with 30 points which is the school freshman record for points in a NCAA tournament.
West Virginia had an answer early for Kentucky’s scoring flurry.
Joe Muzzula had the answer for Knight. A guy that has went scoreless or scored one point in at least 16 games and never scores looked like an NBA draft pick in the game and helped spark WVU going into half time. Once the Cats went up 23-16 with a chance to step on the throats of the Mountaineers but Muzzula just kept killing Kentucky.
He had help though, the wheels literally fell of the bus for Kentucky late in the half and whatever could go wrong, did go wrong for the Cats, including a wild ending to the first half where a touch foul was called on Josh Harrellson and Jon Hood called with a foul with .4 seconds left on the clock. A three point lead stretched into an eight point lead for the Mountaineers at half time.
The Cats weren’t done though.
It looked bleak. The largest halftime deficit that Kentucky had ever overcome in the NCAA tournament was 10 points and twice of those was in 1988 against Duke and Utah in the south regional and championship game. UK was also 2-15 all time in the NCAA tournament when trailing by eight points or more at halftime. Obviously Kentucky didn’t know about any of those stats.
The beginning of the second half was probably the best Kentucky has played coming out of half time all year. They opened up with a Knight and Harrellson led 11-0 run where Harrellson alone had six of his 15 points.
Speaking of our man Jorts, he has to be our MVP in this game. 15 points and eight rebounds in this one and just like in the Princeton game he had some huge buckets. If I had to hand out an MVP award, it would be for Josh Harrellson. He also has 30 points in the NCAA tournament already. One basket in particular was classic Harrellson he missed the shot, got his own rebound, missed again, got his rebound and put it in while almost falling down in the process to break the 55-55 tie late in the second half.
Kentucky’s defense began to shake a bit in the middle of a 10-3 run by WVU as Knight fouled Casey Mitchell on a three pointer and then gave up a wide open layup down the middle, but from then on out it was nothing but solid defense for Kentucky.
Terrence Jones may have been inconsistent today, which has become a common theme for him, but he had some huge free-throws and buckets in the paint down the stretch to help Kentucky win the game. Miller and Jones both had terrible games, but both came through in the clutch and you love to see that.
The sweet sixteen has never been sweeter.
You can see the box score here: http://scores.espn.go.com/ncb/boxscore?gameId=310780096
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