Twenty questions as UK reaches the Sweet 16

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

(H-L photo/Mark Cornelison)

Twenty questions, asked and answered about Kentucky’s win over West Virginia:

  1. The key? One key was the fact Kentucky had one offensive rebound in the first half, while West Virginia had 10 defensive rebounds. Second half, UK had eight offensive rebounds to 11 defensive for the Mountaineers.
  2. Another key? DeAndre Liggins shut down Joe Mazzulla in the second half. The WVU point guard had 15 points and four assists in the first half. With Liggins on him, Mazzulla had five points and no assists in the second half.
  3. Individual key? Brandon Knight scored a career-high 30 points. Better still, Knight set the tone. He hit two three-pointers back-to-back inside the first three minutes, and scored 10 of the Cats’ first 12 points.
  4. How important was defense? West Virginia shot 41.5 percent. That makes 29 straight games in which the Cats have kept the opponent under 50 percent. The last team to shoot 50 percent was UConn, which shot 57.7 percent in beating the Cats in Maui.
  5. Second-half defense? West Virginia scored 41 points the first half, 22 the second.
  6. So how did John Calipari coach? In his second win over Huggins in 10 tries, Cal made a good move turning to the zone late in the first half to protect foul trouble. He also produced a terrific start to the second half. Down by eight points at the break, the Cats went on an 11-0 run to start the second period.
  7. What did Huggins say? “I thought Cal made some adjustments offensively against the
    match-up that we didn’t react to it very well at the start of the second half.”
  8. Jorts’ game? Harrellson was terrific. He scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. In two games here, he scored 30 points and snatched 18 rebounds. He made 14 of 18 shots.
  9. And? He also got four stitches over his left eye after a collision with Casey Mitchell’s elbow.
  10. Josh on the stitches? “I’m down with it.”

The second 10:

  1. Terrence Jones? The freshman had 12 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double in the post-season. It was just his second double-double since Feb. 19.
  2. How big was foul trouble? Doron Lamb had three fouls at halftime and ended up playing just 14 minutes, a season-low. Lamb’s previous low was 16 minutes, twice.
  3. How about the PPP? Kentucky averaged 1.138 points per possession. West Virginia averaged 1.006. Second half, West Virginia averaged 0.713 points per possession
  4. Overlooked individual stat? Besides his great defense, Liggins had nine rebounds. He matched his career-high of 39 minutes.
  5. Darius Miller? The junior was just 1-of-7 and scored three points, breaking a streak of 10 straight double-figure games. But Miller also rose up and hit a big three-pointer with 4:10 left to give Kentucky a 60-55 lead.
  6. How were the Cats in the clutch? Kentucky shot 16 free throws in the final 2:43. It made 11, including its last seven.
  7. How was the crowd? It was pro-UK, of course, but the St. Pete Times Forum was far from full. Pat Riley was in the house, however. Attendance was listed at 17,771.
  8. The day’s biggest surprise? We got to talk to assistant coaches Kenny Payne and Orlando Antigua.
  9. So what’s next? A Friday night East Region semifinal game in Newark against the Ohio State-George Mason winner. Gametime has not been set yet.
  10. How would they match up against Ohio State? Hard to say. The Buckeyes have a big, talented freshman down low in Jared Sullinger. And they have experience. But for Kentucky, playing in the Sweet 16, the pressure is off.

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