Catlanta: Kentucky Runs The South
Wildcats pounce on Baylor and take their talents to New Orleans.
by Eddie Maisonet | @edthesportsfan
When Quincy Acy committed a flagrant foul on Terrence Jones’ shot attempt at the rim early in the first quarter with the score 10-5, I remember thinking that maybe it’s the best thing for the Baylor Bears. You know, make this a fight. Let the Kentucky Wildcats know that you won’t back down, and that for 40 minutes this would be one hell of a contest.
Then Kentucky scored 37 of the game’s next 49 points.
The Kentucky freshmen duo of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (17 points) and Anthony Davis (14 points) combined for nearly three-fourths of the Wildcats points in the first half. Jones played the point-forward role with 6 first-half assists, and coach John Calipari’s defense held the Bears to 32 percent shooting from the field. With a resounding 42-22 halftime score, fans of Big Blue were already hitting Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia and any other travel site on their mobile phones and laptops to make reservations to hit the French Quarter and get seats in the Super Dome.
Then the left knee of Anthony Davis nearly exploded.
Okay, that’s probably a bit over-dramatic, but watching Davis clutch his knee early in the second half put the Georgia Dome in dead silence. Davis’ knee collided with Perry Jones III’s knee while attacking the rim and my immediate thought was, “Season: over.” Thoughts of his #1 pick status evaporating and everything that’s wrong with amateur athletics crossed my brain. Writhing in pain, Davis exited the court and Kentucky pressed on without their player of the year candidate. Jones, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller picked up the scoring load for the Wildcats and maintained a solid lead for the remainder of the game. Davis returned to the lineup, limping for the first few moments, but eventually the limp went away and so did Baylor’s final four chances.
Then the clock hit triple zeroes.
Kentucky made a statement in Atlanta: on their best day, they’re simply unstoppable. This Calipari-coached squad is very different than the 2010 squad that went to Indianapolis. A team not nearly as reliant on freshmen, a team better equipped with shooters, and a team seems to be more together mentally. Baylor looked like a team that just met each other 5 minutes before tip-off; Kentucky looked like a team that’s played together for years.
Three for the road…
1. Quincy Acy will go down as my second favorite Baylor Bear of all-time, behind only Tweety Carter. I’ll always be able to respect dudes who wear egregious yet phenomenal beards (#FearTheBeard), and Acy proved to be the real heart of the Bears when others failed to step up when it was truly needed. My cap is off to you #4.
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has to be considered for a top-three pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Standing at 6-7 with all the athletic tools you’d want from a swingman, Kidd-Gilchrist’s game is proving to be more NBA ready with each and every NCAA tournament game. Watching MKG slice and dice in the middle of Indiana’s and Baylor’s 2-3 zone was a pretty sight to see. I’m not sure Andre Drummond’s upside and potential can make him a better pick than MKG at this point. MKG could start in day 1.
3. Kentucky’s fans are legit. I titled this post “Catlanta” for that specific reason; UK owned the ATL this weekend. Of the approximately 24,000 people in attendance at the Georgia Dome on Sunday, maybe 23,000 were Wildcats fans. Being the sports fan that I am, I can’t do anything but appreciate the chants of “GO BIG BLUE” drowning out anything that was going on in the arena. New Orleans look out, your French Quarter is about to be painted blue.
Eddie Maisonet is the Editor-In-Chief of The Sportsfan Journal and regular contributor to SLAMonline.