The Kentucky Wildcats played their first game in the 2014 NCAA Tournament against the Kansas State Wildcats to see who would earn a date with undefeated Wichita State. The game had one of the most obscure beginnings you will ever see. Kansas State walk-on Brian Roehleder was assessed a technical foul for dunking in warm ups with less than 20 minutes to go until tip-off.
It was pretty unanimous that fans of both teams thought the call was unnecessary, I did too.
— Vinny Hardy (@VinnyHardy) March 22, 2014
Andrew Harrison made one of two from the line to give UK a 1-0 edge before the game started.
Kentucky kept a comfortable lead for most of the game. Their work on the boards contributed a lot to that. The Cats won the rebounding battle 40-28. Julius Randle had 19 points and 15 boards on an efficient 7-12 shooting night from the field. Kentucky was never quite able to deliver the knockout blow despite controlling things most of the night.
Kansas State shaved a double-digit first half lead to six as Kentucky led 29-23 at the break. They cut it to two in the second half at 35-33 but Kentucky responded with a 7-0 run and were quickly back up by nine. It was reminiscent of UK’s run against Florida in Gainesville in the second half. It was nice, but Florida was never scared that they would lose the game. Same thing tonight, there wasn’t really a real fear that Kentucky was going to lose the game.
It seemed like UK hit more three-pointers than they really did. That wasn’t the case as they were 4-15 (26.7%) from deep and 19-50 (38%) overall. Hopefully they can improve on that next time out. Aaron Harrison definitely did his part as he went for 18 points and was the only other Wildcat in double figures. He and Randle combined for 37 of Kentucky’s 56 points.
Up next for Kentucky, another squad from Kansas. It will be the Wichita State Shockers (35-0) in a Sunday afternoon date in St. Louis. The Shockers will play angry, that’s their thing. Kentucky will have to match that, and also play poised and great.