Kentucky survived a tough opening test to earn a 78-73 victory over No. 12 Davidson in the first round of the men's NCAA tournament. After P.J. Washington hit a floater along the baseline, Davidson hit two of its first three, 3 pointers and led 8-6.
Davidson caught fire in the second half to keep things interesting, slowly creeping up the scoreboard before finally tying things up at 52-52 with nine minutes remaining.
The Kentucky basketball team allowed a 13-point lead to evaporate in the second half. Washington picked up a critical 4th foul with 11:12 left in the game and took a seat in favor of Wenyen Gabriel. The way they played in the first half, I thought defensively, to play a team that's as efficient and an execution team like Davidson, this young team did pretty good.
Kevin Knox scored 25 points to pace the Wildcats, who failed to make a 3-pointer for the first time since defeating Seton Hall in the Great Alaska Shootout in 1988. The two United Kingdom freshmen combined to sink all but one of the Cats' final 14 free throw attempts. Only 26 percent of their attempts have been from 3.
"We're going to come out and play like we always play". The freshman filled up the box score with 19 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Knox then converted a bucket on the other end of the court to give United Kingdom its 3 point advantage back. In fact, Kentucky took only six threes in the game and three in the second half.
Jeff Gross Getty Images
Knox was the best player on the offensive floor, although Shai Gilgeous-Alexander provided plenty of help despite a poor shooting day. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shook off what had been a hard night on the offensive end of the floor to score seven consecutive points when United Kingdom needed them most.
8-for-31 - Shooting for Davidson's two leading scorers on the season, Peyton Aldridge and Kellan Grady.
Kentucky will advance to take on the victor of the 4/13 matchup between Arizona and Buffalo.
United Kingdom would lead at the break, 34-24 shooting 54% while holding Davidson to just 29%.
PJ Washington followed Gilgeous-Alexander with 11 points, all of which came in the opening half.