For all the talk about Kentucky’s big three freshmen, they were no where to be found in the Wildcat’s 59-57 win over Princeton in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Terrence Jones had 10 points (on 4-8 shooting) and just two rebounds. Doron Lamb finished with just seven points. And Brandon Knight? He was scoreless and 0-7 from the floor heading into the final possession of the game.
Luckily for Kentucky, that changed. Knight shook off a ball-screen, instead putting the ball on the floor and beating his man to the rim, finishing a layup that put the Wildcats up 59-57 with 2.0 seconds left. Princeton wouldn’t get a shot off.
Its easy to say that this is a bad sign for Kentucky. Team’s that compete for national titles don’t generally struggle to knock off Ivy league contenders.
That said, Princeton is a better team than you think. They have some size and they are more physical than you would think.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
But more to the point, Kentucky won a game in the tournament despite getting poor performances out of their three best players. Josh Harrellson had 15 points and 10 boards, making a number of key plays down the stretch. Darius Miller had 17 points, four boards, and three assists.
Jones, Knight, and Lamb are all freshman. This was their first NCAA Tournament game. Nerves are to be expected. The veterans stepped up and carried the team — something that has been an issue this season — and the Wildcats survived and advanced.
You could argue that this game was a good sign for Kentucky.
Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that it was a good decision to put Kentucky in the national title game.
Either way, UK will be playing West Virginia on Saturday.