Belmont played in one more NCAA Tournament game than Kentucky did last season. But UK reloaded with talent and were heavy favorites going into this afternoons game at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in his first season, that if it came down to talent or experience, he’s taking talent every time. The Bruins may have had him reevaluating that statement (if he hasn’t already) after his group of super freshmen struggled with the Bruins throughout this contest.
Drew Windler got the Bruins going early with a pair of threes but after that, Belmont missed a chance to build up a nice lead. After several good defensive stops, they missed their next 8 three point shots.
With the game tied at twelve, Belmont went on a 13-2 run led by back-to-back triples by Windler. After a nice drive and finish by JJ Mann the Rupp crowd was stunned, Calipari was furious and Pat Forde was delighting us with his tweets.
Belmont 25, Kentucky 14. All-Americans getting a basketball IQ lesson from OVC guys.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 21, 2013
The Bruins led by 11 twice but only a fool thought this game would end with Belmont going away. Belmont got into a little foul trouble and Kentucky ended the half on a run to cut the deficit to two at 43-41.
Kentucky took their first lead with 16:22 to play with an Aaron Harrison lay up.
Belmont continued to pick up fouls and before you knew it, Kentucky was in the bonus before the second TV timeout.
Aaron Harrison knocked down a three with 11:42 left to push the UK lead up to eight. It appeared then as if Kentucky was starting to pull away. To Belmont’s credit they continued to fight and cut the lead back to five at 70-65 after a pair of free throws from Evan Bradds. Yet after another Kentucky run of free throws and lay ups the lead became insurmountable.
- Belmont has been inconsistent this season but that has to be attributed to the injuries they have encountered all season. Getting Reese Chamberlain back was huge for the Bruins.
- Kentucky’s size was too much. I told those around me before the game that Willie Cauley-Stein and Julius Randle could combine for 50 points. Well they came up just shy of that with 45. Everytime Randle drove to the lane he either finished the layup or ended up at the line. Or sometimes both.
- Belmont did not get that many clean looks, especially in the second half. The Bruins hit 7 triples in the first 20 minutes and finished with 11.
- Drew Windler is deadly from behind the arc. He hit 5 of his 9 attempts today and a few of them were from a foot or two behind the line and off balance. Seeing him curl up to the wing and square his feet to shoot will make opposing coaches nervous.
- Someone with more time on their hands than I, will have to look up the last time a mid-major won games at Chapel Hill and Rupp Arena in the same season or if it has ever happened. That’s what Belmont came pretty close to doing today.
Up Next for the Bruins: @ Indiana State Dec. 28th 12:05