by Luke D’Errico
No. 11 UCLA beats No. 1 Kentucky
Going into the weekend, UCLA at Kentucky was thought by many to be the most anticipated game of the season so far and it did not disappoint. So, here are three of my takeaways from Saturday’s game:
- UCLA is a final four team
This team has six solid guys who can straight up score with ease. The Bruins are led by sensational point guard Lonzo Ball who struggled in the first half being locked down by De’Aaron Fox, another top-3 PG in the nation. However, Ball showed in the 2nd half why many think he’s the best PG in the country right now. Though Ball isn’t the only one producing; on Saturday, the Bruins had 5 different double-digit scorers, proving this team is balanced enough to go far. In all, between Ball, Bryce Alford, Aaron Holliday, Isaac Hamilton, Thomas Welsh and TJ Leaf, I think this team has a great shot at making a run in the tournament.
2. That being said, UCLA’s defense needs to improve
Right now, UCLA’s defense is vulnerable on the interior, and it is their biggest weakness as of now. We saw them get killed by dribble penetration on Saturday, so they have to set up a zone or something and focus on the inside more.
3. Kentucky shouldn’t be worried
The score was super close until UCLA bursted on a 23-6 run to end the first half. After that momentum-changing run, the crowd at Rupp quieted and the Bruins were able to pull away with the game. Kentucky could have just as easily gone on a run and won that game. The Wildcats just missed a ton of easy shots, and missed free throws cost them the win. Also, Kentucky still has a ton of star power. Adebayo had a promising showing with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Monk, with 24 points, went off hitting 10 out of 19 shots. In the end, I think my Final Four will turn out to be: Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, and Kansas.
Other Notable Headlines
Duke got Marques Bolden and Jayson Tatum back
Coming back from injuries, Bolden and Tatum returned Saturday in a 94-55 win vs Maine. Luke Kennard scored a career-best 35 points, and Bolden and Tatum ended up with a combined 17 points. Grayson Allen and freshman guard Frank Jackson didn’t play, but Coach K says they’ll be back for Tuesday’s game against No. 24 Florida. With Bolden and Tatum back, Duke is becoming that scary team everyone thought they would be preseason.
UVA Goes Down to West Virginia
For two games in a row, Virginia has struggled in games at home that they should have easily won. London Perrantes has to be more aggressive if UVA wants to succeed. I really don’t know what’s wrong with UVA, but they won’t go far in the tournament playing like they have.
Still Not Convinced On Baylor
I agree Baylor has been impressive to start the season. So far, they’ve beaten three top-10 opponents in Oregon (4), Louisville (10), and Xavier (7). So, why am I still not aboard the Baylor hype train? I say this because every year, Baylor finds a way to choke in the tournament. Last year, Baylor was ranked No. 5 and lost to No. 12 Yale in the first round. Even worse, two years ago, they were ranked No. 3 and lost to No. 14 Georgia State. GEORGIA STATE! There’s no doubt in my mind Baylor is cursed, and I’m betting Baylor will lose first or second round once again.