The Wildcats will play North Carolina in the Elite Eight on Sunday. Despite making it to the Sweet 16, UCLA (31-5) surely is disappointed it wasn't able to go deeper into the tournament given the talent on its roster.
For the sixth time in John Calipari's eight-year tenure and the 42nd time in program history, the Kentucky Wildcats are in the Sweet 16. Fellow freshman guard Malik Monk also played well with 21 points for Kentucky. 1 Wildcats and snap their 42-game winning streak at Rupp Arena.
"Yeah, I take it personally", Fox said, "anytime you're playing someone like Ball". That wasn't a problem with Kentucky fans. We were all wondering when we were going to hear from LaVar Ball - you know, the guy who said Lonzo was the best player in the world - and now we finally have. In a matchup of highly touted freshman point guards, Fox looked like the player who should be in the mix as the top choice in June's National Basketball Association draft, rather than UCLA's Lonzo Ball. Dominique Hawkins had three of those triples in four attempts for nine of his 11 points in the win.
T.J. Leaf and Isaac Hamilton each scored 17 points to lead UCLA (31-5). That team averages like 90 points a game, and we held them to 75, 15 less than their average. Because of all the buzz that Ball was generating, many expected the Kentucky freshman to come out and play with a chip on his shoulder, and he did just that. The second half belonged in a Dom Perignon bottle.
Monk also started scoring.
UCLA scored just 33 points in the first half, but only trailed by three at the break. He obliterated Ball (and the rest of UCLA's paltry defense) in the pick and roll, and wasn't even using his explosive speed to do it. Fox did a good job of keeping his dribble and picking his spots to get off relatively easy shots, but the UCLA guards lack of ball pressure (and Ball in particular) made it too easy for him to get into the paint and score.
DID YOU KNOW: UCLA beat the then-No. That was as close as the Bruins would get as Kentucky pushed its lead to as much as 14 in the final couple of minutes.
UCLA: Six different Bruins averaged in double figures during the season, and four got there. At this point, it's unclear which other Bruins will leave.
Ball said he felt bad that he couldn't carry his team's seniors to another win in the NCAA Tournament.
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NORTH CAROLINA 92, BUTLER 80: Joel Berry II scored 26 points and Justin Jackson added 24 as top-seeded North Carolina moved to the Elite Eight from the NCAA South Region on Friday. Luke Maye put up 16 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double-double.
He finished with 21 points in the game.
Two free throws by Fox with 5:58 remaining gave Kentucky a 69-58 lead, a death sentence of sorts for UCLA.
The Tar Heels, who reached the Elite Eight for the 27th time, connected on 54.4 percent of their shots, while Butler was at 43.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were suffering through a scoring drought the stretched beyond 4 minutes.
THE TRANSFER: Butler guard Tyler Lewis has familiarity with the Tar Heels after playing two seasons for rival North Carolina State before transferring.
The Bruins made 11 of their first 15 shots in the second half, but were strangely losing ground.
On Friday night, UCLA looked like it was running in place. "They are two of the best players in the country".