Only Kemba Walker’s having a better NCAA tournament than Brandon Knight. And it’s close.
In three games, Kentucky’s freshman guard has hit a game-winning shot, scored a career-high 30 points and … hit another game-winning shot, this time against the field’s No. 1 overall seed. That’s more than most guys do in four years.
Knight’s done it in three games.
“I have all the faith and confidence in the world in him,” coach John Calipari said after the Princeton game. “He’s not afraid to make a play. Guys like him aren’t afraid to miss.”
It’s no surprise given his mix of talent and smarts. Knight was a top five recruit coming out of high school – and also managed to graduate with a 4.3 GPA. But that clutch plays? That’s beyond smarts and skill. You need both, plus a healthy dose of swagger.
It’s not just his coach and teammates who are impressed, either. Ohio State coach Thad Matta – who’s brought in the likes of Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Jared Sullinger – was impressed by Knight’s shot and the circumstances under which he made it.
“Yeah, he made a heck of a shot,” Matta said. “Aaron [Craft], you know, he is a tremendous defender. He had his hand in his face and he just rose up and made a great shot. And you know, those are the type of shots that we said we wanted them to make were challenged twos. To his credit, he made a big-time play.”
Those game-winning shots overshadowed what were otherwise OK games for Knight, who can struggle with his shot. He’ll need to be on against North Carolina today, though. The Heels will be expecting to run – and expecting Knight to bring his A game.
Some of North Carolina’s players have been on the wrong side of Knight’s shots. Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall both remember Knight coming up big last year in prep all-star games. They say it’s just how he plays.
“… when it comes to crunch time,” Knight told CBSSports, “a couple of seconds left and the game on the line, I focus in, and make sure I am making the right decisions.”
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