What Happened on Saturday
A whole lot.
The top headline on Sunday is the fact that the Kentucky Wildcats took care of business, defeating the Florida Gators at Rupp Arena in Lexington. The victory was one of the best in recent memory for UK, having fallen to the Gators in Gainesville, the Kansas Jayhawks and Louisville Cardinals in their last three clashes against top-tier teams. In fact, the last win they secured against a Top 10 KenPom team was back on December 17 against the North Carolina Tar Heels, who were ranked 7th at the time of the game.
Unsurprisingly it was ‘The Malik Monk Show.’ Kentucky’s fantastic freshman dropped 33 points and was 5-for-7 from long range while going 10-for-11 from the free throw line. It was the fourth time this season that the Lepanto, Arkansas native had dropped 30 or more points, which was quite the accomplishment.
The victory aids UK in a big way. With a week to go they hold a one-game edge over the Gators in the conference standings. Although they’ll be tested by a suddenly hot Vanderbilt Commodores team on Tuesday, they have the game at home in Rupp. Florida has to host red-hot Arkansas (who we’ll talk about soon), but that game is home too at the O-Dome. So, for now, the Wildcats are in the driver’s seat, and all they’ll need is two wins or hope that Florida trips up just once.
The South Carolina Gamecocks were able to finally get off the schneid Saturday and in a big way at that. The Gamecocks blasted the Tennessee Volunteers, nearly beating them by 30 points (a 27-point margin of victory over the Vols will have to suffice). Sindarius Thornwell scored 15 and PJ Dozier dropped 19 in the win. Although South Carolina’s issues lately probably weren’t going to cost them a spot in the NCAA Tournament, a tailspin now wouldn’t have been the wisest maneuver. So, with two games against the Mississippi schools this week, Frank Martin & Co. have the opportunity to really get their bearings back.
Are the Arkansas Razorbacks going to make the NCAA Tournament? The way it’s looking, they very well might just. The Hogs won their fifth game in a row on Saturday, taking down the Auburn Tigers 79-68. What’s more is the usual Mike Anderson road woes haven’t reared their ugly head. The game was in Auburn, and to that point, Arkansas has won each of their last three road games dating back to February 11. The Hogs are ranked 31st in RPI as of writing and the BracketMatrix likes them a lot. As of writing, they have them as a 9-seed, with some places going as far as making them a 7-seed.