Tres Lyles is like a Honey Badger. He doesn’t care about visions of Cinderella dancing. He doesn’t care about Diaper Dandies and their dreams of winning a title. Honey Badger don’t care. Honey Badger don’t give a shit. He just takes what he wants, and the only thing Tres Lyles wants is to dunk on your head. And that is exactly what Mr. Lyles and the rest of the University of Kentucky Wildcats did last night to Hampton in slaughtering them 79-56.
Number one seeded teams have never lost to a 16 seed in the history of the NCAA and that held true again Thursday for three of the top teams as upsets littered the matchups below them. Kentucky was delayed in starting its game against Hampton University as Purdue and Cincinnati battled into overtime to see which team could suck less. As it turns out that was Cincinnati.
Once the game finally tipped at 10:19 p.m., Kentucky came out looking sluggish, like they have quite often this season when facing a lesser opponent. The Cats looked jet-lagged, which is ironic since all they had to do was drive 85-miles west from Lexington to the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. Even with a sizeable height advantage Kentucky had problems hitting shots from point-blank range of the rim. There’s nothing pretty about watching 7′ giants clank shots from a foot away.
Tres Lyles had a poster-ready jam at the beginning of the game, but Hampton was pesky and hung around by not playing afraid. They even took the lead a couple times, leading to all in Big Blue Nation to simultaneously lean forward toward their televisions and start wringing their hands.
In reality this game had an inevitable conclusion, it just required pressure and time. With about six minutes left in the first half Kentucky pushed the lead to double digits and there was no looking back.
The size and depth of the Wildcats clearly wore Hampton down and led to their shooting just 29 percent from the field. Kentucky out rebounded their opponent 51-31 and outscored them in the paint 44-20.
Karl-Anthony Towns stayed out of foul trouble and played strong all night in scoring 21 points, while pulling down 11 rebounds. Andrew Harrison lit up the outmanned Pirates for 14 points, Tres Lyles had 10 points and six rebounds, and Tyler Ulis scored 11 as Kentucky cruised in its first Midwest Regional game shooting 46 percent.About the only negative from Kentucky’s performance Thursday, aside from the rocky start, was they didn’t cover the Vegas point spread. Trust me the final score was not indicative of how thoroughly Hampton was dismantled. The Cats could have beat them by 50, but to Calipari’s credit he called off the dogs. No doubt that is frustrating if you took KY and the 32 points, but no need to scar Hampton for life.
Vegas has Kentucky as a 17-point favorite over Cincinnati. That will be the second game played in the Midwest and is slated to start around 2:45 Saturday. Big Blue Nation will be out in force again inside the red-clad confines of the Yum! Center. Interestingly, Louisville is the same location from where UK began its title run in 2012. Coincidence or not?
So the Kitty Kats are 35-0 with five to play. My apologies to all the mamas of players on other opposing teams, girlfriends and family members, you might want to cover your eyes if your loved ones are slated to play these Wildcats. Kentucky don’t care that you tried hard and made the dance, Kentucky don’t give a shit. They have business that requires achieving a 40-0 record, so take your ass whooping and let’s get on with the show.
Cincinnati Bearcats you got next.