Davidson had its shots. They just missed too frequently down the stretch.
No. 5 Kentucky outlasted No. 12 Davidson, 78-73, on Thursday evening, surviving the upset bid and advancing to Saturday’s second round against Buffalo.
UK led for nearly the entire evening, but found itself tied with Davidson with under 8 minutes to play. John Calipari’s team edged back out in front, but Davidson was persistent. Bob McKillop’s group had chances to tie or lead late, but the hot 3-point shooting that got them back into the game suddenly abandoned them as they missed six-straight from distance after they tied the game.
Davidson ultimately made just 11 of 13 of its 3s while Kentucky didn’t make a single one. UK missed all six of its offerings from beyond the arc.
Making up for the 3-point disparity was Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The pair combined to score 44 points and go 18 of 21 from the line. Knox of 8 of 16 from the floor and Gilgeous-Alexander, who also had eight rebounds, 5 of 13. Kentucky shot 51 percent as a team from the floor.
Jon Axel Gudmundsson, in addition to having an amazing name, scored 21 points for Davidson, going 6 of 11 from 3-point range. Kelian Grady had 16 points.
While going 0-for from 3-point range didn’t cost Kentucky a victory against the Atlantic 10 tournament champions, it’ shard to see that formula holding up in the later rounds, whether it’s in another all-Wildcats matchup with Arizona or against Buffalo. UK isn’t dependent on making many shots from deep, but the math of 3 > 2 is irrefutable and if an opponent that can match them physically can also make a few shots, it’s going to be trouble for Kentucky.