Wildcats invading Houston

Posted: March 31, 2011 by Bacon in Kentucky Basketball, Outside the Ville

Kentucky fans travel and follow their beloved Wildcats anywhere they go and in large numbers. So when UK clinched their first Final Four in thirteen years you can imagine the amount of Makers Mark that will be requested at all local bars in Houston, Texas this week. 

Big Blue Nation will be there in huge numbers hoping to come home with a championship just like they did in 1998. Looking at the rest of the Final Four and the match-ups I can see why UK fans are already starting to figure out their celebrations on next Monday night.

In what UK fans are referring to as the “revenge tour” in this tournament Kentucky will get a shot at making up for an earlier loss this season in their game on Saturday. The Wildcats have already had their revenge on West Virginia in the second round ( losing to them in the regional final last year) and knocked off North Carolina (losing to the Tar Heels back in November). Now it’s time to get payback on the Huskies and Kemba Walker.

Connecticut gave Kentucky their first loss of the season back in the Maui tournament in November. It has been the worst loss of the season for a Wildcats team who has eight losses but the 84-67 defeat to the Huskies is the only loss by more than seven points. Maui was where the “Legand of Kemba” began this season.

It is clear these two teams are completely different since that match-up. All except that Kemba Walker is still a one man wrecking crew. Since these two storied programs met both teams have seen many changes. For example the rise of fame from UK center Josh “Jorts” Harrellson. The November 24th match-up was one of only three times this season that the beloved jean short wearing center was held scoreless. A stat that was thought as no big deal before he became the white Moses Malone in te SEC tournament and continued through the NCAA tournament. 

It was also a game that UK fans saw Eloy Vargas clock a season high 19 minutes off the bench. Vargas has played a grand total of 19 minutes in the last 5 games (NCAA tournament and SEC title game). The changes do go both ways.  UConn Freshman Jeremy Lamb, who is averaging 14 points per game through the Big East and NCAA tournament, had just two points and a season-low two field goal attempts in their previous match-up.

Of course the pendulum does swing both ways. Another UConn Freshman Niels Giffey scored a career-high 14 points and played 33 minutes in the Huskies win. He has broken the double-digit plateau just once since and played no more than 21 minutes in a game since as well. Kentucky’s Freshman star Terrence Jones scored a team-high 24 points in the Wildcats loss. He would continue those high scoring ways throughout the early part of the season but it has been when Jones decided to take less shots and look to pass out of more double teams that this UK team has really begun to be unbeatable. Kentucky is 4-4 this season when he scores more than 20 points in a game.

This will be just the fourth time these two school have ever met. Connecticut leads the series 2-1 and are 1-0 versus UK in NCAA tournament play. That game was a 87-83 UConn win came in the second round of the 2006 tournament.

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