Ignore talk of the Kentucky-West Virginia ‘rematch’

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The Kentucky-West Virginia game Saturday is a rematch of last year’s East Regional final in name only.

The rosters don’t have any of the essential players from the Mountaineers’ 73-66 win.John Wall, gone. De’Sean Butler, gone. DeMarcus Cousins, Devin Ebanks, Patrick Patterson, Wellington Smith, Eric Bledsoe, all gone.

“It’s like they have a completely different team. I’m not sure they have that inside presence that they had from Cousins, even though Josh Harrellson does a pretty good job,” said West Virginia point guard Joe Mazzulla, one of the few holdovers.

“On our end, we’re a much different team. We kind of spread the load out as far as what we’re going to do offensively, and we really have to rely on defense and rebounding. So, I don’t really think it’s too much of a rematch.”

Different styles of play couldn’t be more true. When the Wildcats missed 24 of 28 shots from beyond the arc, it ended their season. This year, their 3-point shooting is one of their biggest strengths. That’s what 5-seed West Virginia (21-11) will focus on.

“A lot of their shots were contested, under duress from the 1-3-1. We got them off of the 3-point line and probably a few steps back,” Mazzulla said.

“That’s just what we’ve got to do (Saturday). We can’t let them get standstill shots and we can’t let them set their feet. If we can make them rush their 3-pointers, and if we can get a hand in their face, then hopefully it’ll be the same result.”

And Kentucky? The 4-seed Wildcats (26-8) will be focused on more consistent play so they can avoid another close game like Thursday’s 59-57 win over Princeton.

Also, they’re pumped for coach John Calipari, who’s just 1-8 vs. West Virginia’s Bob Huggins. “We’ll try to help Cal’s record,” freshman Doron Lamb told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Tip-off is 12:15 p.m. ET.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: