March 24, 2017 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports)
UCLA had trouble getting its fast paced offense going in the first half against the Cincinnati Bearcats long and athletic defenders. But when the UCLA Bruins (31-4) get rolling, there usually is no stopping them. Their eyes were set on the Sweet 16 and beyond. NBA prospect Lonzo Ball scored 19 points and set the fire from UCLA’s poor start with nine second-half assists. His play lead the Bruins to a 79-67 victory over Cincinnati in the South Regionals.
”I don’t know of a more fun basketball team to watch when we’re clicking and we’ve had a lot of games where we’ve been clicking,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. Next up: A blue blood rematch with Kentucky in the South Regional semifinals.
Possibly the best game of round 2 the Kentucky Wildcats (31-5) found themselves in another tournament classic with the Wichita St Shockers. Bam Adebayo blocked the shockers 3 point attempt giving UK their the 13th victory in a row. UK the youngest team in March grew up in the closing moments of the game and sent Wichita State another second-round heartbreaking lost, 65-62. De’Aaron Fox had 14 points, a late steal and dunk in gain the momentum. Malik Monk blocked a shot and made two free throws in the final 13 seconds. Adebayo had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
”They’re young, but they have a will to win and play with courage and are skilled basketball players and great kids who share,” coach John Calipari said.
Now we entering the sweetness that is this Sweet 16 matchup of two of the premier college basketball program in the nation. The rematch we have all been waiting for; not including seeding this is a top 10 matchup that could be better than any Final Four we may see. No.5 Kentucky vs. No. 8 UCLA on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn. the Bruins beat the Wildcats, 97-92, on Dec. 3 at Rupp Arena. UCLA coach Steve Alford dismisses the win in December will have any impact on the Sweet 16 game..
“It’s a very, very good basketball team and I think they’re better now in March than they were when we played them in December, and I think we’re better than what we were in December as well,” Alford said. “At least we know them pretty well, as far as prep goes and they obviously know us. But it makes for a great match-up.”
One of the best games of the year, UCLA Freshman T.J. Leaf finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Isaac Hamilton scored 19 points, while Thomas Welsh, Lonzo Ball and Bryce Alford each had 14, and Aaron Holiday added 13. Kentucky put five players in double figures. Malik Monk led all scorers with 24 points. De’Aaron Fox had 20, Bam Adebayo poured in 18 points and 13 rebounds, Isaiah Briscoe scored 12, and Willis had 11.
Calipari knows he can’t let the Bruins run free. “In the first game, we were really fast, but we were impatient,” Calipari said. “They are a team that you’ve got to make play defense. You can’t take quick, contested shots. They are really good. This is going to be a hard game.” This is a Final Four level matchup that shouldn’t be played in the third round. They’re both good enough to win the National Championship but regardless the college basketball world will be watching.