The Kentucky Wildcats have been broadly believed to be one of many 5 or 6 groups that had a practical shot of profitable the nationwide championship getting into the 2022 males’s NCAA event. After a nightmare season a 12 months in the past that noticed the staff end 9-16 general, John Calipari reloaded the roster with transfers as a substitute of his typical onslaught of one-and-done freshmen. The brand new method labored to nice impact: Kentucky completed the season at 26-7 general and earned a No. 2 seed to the NCAA event.
The Wildcats had an elite offense that completed No. 4 within the nation. The protection was stable at No. 25. Kentucky had the nationwide participant of the 12 months front-runner in Oscar Tshiebwe, who emerged as probably the most dominant rebounders within the latest historical past of the game. Even after a disappointing loss to Tennessee within the semifinals of the SEC event, the Wildcats remained a well-liked choose to make the Last 4 out of the East Area.
The march to New Orleans began with a sport in opposition to MAAC event champ Saint Peter’s, a No. 15 seed. If this was purported to be tune-up for the larger and extra gifted groups on Kentucky’s path, the Wildcats shortly came upon Saint Peter’s wasn’t going to go and not using a struggle.
The Peacocks shocked Kentucky, 86-79, in time beyond regulation. It’s the second straight 12 months a No. 15 seed has defeated a No. 2 seed within the males’s NCAA event, following Oral Roberts’ upset of Ohio State final 12 months. It’s a stunning end result that leaves the underside half of the East Area with out its blueblood powerhouse, and wrecks bracket swimming pools across the nation within the course of.
Saint Peter’s was aggressive all through. The sport was tied at halftime and performed inside one or two possessions for a lot of the second half. The Peacocks’ matchup zone protection gave issues all evening to a Kentucky offense that had the bottom three-point fee (share of discipline targets from three-point vary) of any event staff.
Kentucky led by six with beneath three minutes remaining in regulation earlier than the Peacocks began one other rally. Saint Peter’s received a layup from Daryl Banks III, a layup from Hassan Drame, and a three-pointer from Doug Edert on three straight possessions to take a one-point lead with beneath a minute left. Kentucky discovered Kellan Grady for 3 on the subsequent possession, and his miss was corralled by Oscar Tsheibwe. Tsheibwe shortly dished the ball again to Grady for a three-pointer that fell to present Kentucky a two-point lead. Saint Peter’s had yet one more probability, and Edert received a runner to go to tie the rating. Kentucky couldn’t get off an excellent look on its closing possession and the sport headed to time beyond regulation.
With Saint Peter’s trailing by three in time beyond regulation, Edert tied the rating on this stunning play to get open from three.
A layup from Drame, free throws from Banks, and a number of defensive stops iced the sport for Saint Peter’s, who now advances to be one win away from the Candy 16.
Right here’s how Saint Peter’s despatched Kentucky packing within the NCAA event.
Kentucky couldn’t make its free throws within the clutch
Kentucky began time beyond regulation by going 1-of-6 from the free throw line. Tsheibwe missed two, Sahvir Wheeler missed two, and Davion Mintz missed one.
The Wildcats went 23-for-35 (65.7 %) from the road on the evening. Saint Peter’s, in the meantime, went 18-for-21 from the road (85.7 %). The Peacocks couldn’t get to the road as typically as Kentucky, however they made each try rely. Kentucky goes to be desirous about these missed free throws for a very long time.
Kentucky didn’t get a lot from its finest freshman or finest shooter
TyTy Washington and Kellan Grady carried Kentucky for a lot of the 12 months. Washington is the highest freshman on the staff and a projected lottery choose within the subsequent NBA draft. Grady is a switch from Davidson who shot 42.6 % from three-point vary on a excessive quantity of makes an attempt. Washington and Grady have been going to need to be spectacular for Kentucky to achieve the Last 4, and in opposition to Saint Peter’s they struggled immensely.
Washington ended the evening with 5 factors on 2-of-10 capturing. Grady’s solely discipline purpose was his three-pointer late in regulation. He ended the evening with eight factors on 1-of-9 capturing from the ground.
We’ve seen John Calipari groups get completed in by a scarcity of capturing earlier than. It occurred once more: the Wildcats went simply 4-of-15 from three-point vary on the evening.
Kentucky couldn’t defend the ball
Banks was great all evening. He completed with 27 factors on 9-of-19 capturing from the sphere and 5-of-8 capturing from three. Banks was persistently getting dribble penetration in opposition to Wheeler and the opposite Kentucky guards who couldn’t hold him out of the paint. These drives typically pressured assist that left Edert from three. Edert completed with 20 factors on the evening.
Kentucky’s offense scored effectively all 12 months, nevertheless it was not often fairly. The Wildcats have been a top-five offensive rebounding staff off the energy of Tsheibwe. They by no means took threes. Wheeler was a terrific playmaker however placing Washington on the ball would have supplied extra scoring punch. Kentucky didn’t have nice rim safety with Tsheibwe in the course of its protection, both.
The lifeless offense down the stretch will hang-out Calipari. In earlier years, he may say his staff was one of many youngest within the nation, however not anymore. As a substitute, this Kentucky staff fell sufferer to the identical shortcomings that so a lot of Calipari’s different latest groups have additionally had. This counts as a significant missed alternative for the Cats.