Cats silence West Virginia, will face Notre Dame in Elite 8
03/26/2015 11:29 PM
CLEVELAND — Some Mountaineers were loud with their talk during the week, but their play was painfully quiet once the game actually started.
Guess the Cats got their tongues.
Five Wildcats scored in double figures to lead No. 1 overall seed Kentucky (37-0) to a 78-39 annihilation of No. 5 seed West Virginia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena to advance to the Midwest Regional final.
Trey Lyles totaled a team-high 14 points with seven rebounds on the side, and Andrew Harrison (13), Aaron Harrison (12), Dakari Johnson (12), and Devin Booker (12) each reached double digits as UK built a 26-point lead in the first half with stunning ease.
The Wildcats made mincemeat of the Mountaineers’ vaunted press defense, committing only 10 turnovers while converting multiple easy looks at the basket in transition on their way to shooting 52% from the field.
On the other end, West Virginia (25-10) had no answer for Kentucky’s size. The Cats won the rebounding battle 44-32, blocked seven shots, and allowed the Mountaineers to shoot a measly 24% for the game. WVU actually accumulated more fouls (29) and turnovers (14) than made field goals (13).
West Virginia’s 39 points set a school record for fewest in an NCAA Tournament game and the fewest scored by any team in this year’s tournament.
Some Mountaineer players made headlines during the week by questioning Kentucky’s effort in games and claiming they weren’t intimidating by its perfect record.
WVU freshman guard Daxter Miles Jr. even predicted he and his teammates would take down the undefeated and top overall seed, saying, “Salute to them getting up to 36-0, but tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1. They’re gonna be 36-1.”
Not only was Miles embarrassingly wrong, but to add insult to injury, he didn’t even score, finishing the game 0-3 from the field and 0-2 from the foul line.
The Wildcats let their play do the talking.
Kentucky will battle No. 3 seed Notre Dame on Saturday for the Midwest Regional final and a trip to the Final Four. The Fighting Irish defeated No. 7 seed Wichita State 81-70 in the other semifinal.
Saturday’s tipoff time is scheduled for 8:49 p.m. ET.