Wildcats ‘Block’ Shockers’ Path Again
(Indianapolis, IN) – Kentucky’s Wildcats blocked Wichita State’s path to a national championship in 2014 and again Sunday in Indianapolis. The Shocker’s season ended today when fifth ranked Kentucky came up big defensively. With the game on the line, and protecting a one point lead, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo blocked the Shockers’ last two shot attempts and held on for a 65-62 win.
The Shockers fell to 31-5 despite the heroics of freshman Landry Shamet who scored 18, second half points, and the first half production of Shaquille Morris. The 6’8 center won the opening tip and the Shockers leaned on Morris, who was their most effective weapon. At the half Morris had eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
It was a hard fought defensive battle where two teams that average over 80 points per game were suffocated by fundamentally sound and physical defenders. Neither team shot over 33 % in a first half that ended with the Wildcats leading 26-24.
The opening five minutes of the second half were a different story as the Shox made five of eight shots and the Cats nailed four of seven, and at the first media break it was WSU 37-36 as Zach Brown hit a triple and a lay up. Two poorly chosen missed three-point attempts however ended Wichita State’s momentum.
Foul trouble for point-guard Landry Shamet hampered the Shox and Kentucky took the lead during a four minute stretch while he sat out. The lead grew to six points with 7:35 left and that’s when Shamet really performed. The red-shirt freshman scored 13 points in the final 7 minutes of the game. His triple with under a minute left brought WSU within that one point margin.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari said the game was basically over, until Shamet exploded.
“He made big-time shots, like those are gutty shots. Like the game was over,” said Calipari. “and he makes a three. He makes a two…. He’s a good, good player.”
Shocker head coach Gregg Marshall says his freshman point-guard almost won the game.
“He basically, as you said, he had willed us back in the game with some tremendous opportunities,” said Marshall. “We thought we’d come back and win the game. We thought we were the better team. In our locker room, we believed we were the better team. Regardless of what whoever thinks, we thought we would and should win the game.”
Shamet finished with 20 points and Morris tallied 11. Zach Brown who scored the first point of the game and the only Wichita State points in the final five minutes of the game, not scored by Shamet, finished with nine.
The Wildcats were led by De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, each scoring 14 points. Adebayo notched 13.
The Shockers were good, they were gutty and they were close, however, the Wildcats blocked their path.
Editor: On Monday we’ll have video and exclusive audio from the Shockers’ locker room.