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Saturday, March 17, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Kentucky 87, Iowa State 71

By Brian Bennett


LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Kentucky comfortably survived the first weekend of the NCAA tournament in its own backyard, and now we have a pretty sweet rematch on tap for next week in Atlanta.

But first, here's a quick look at the No. 1 seed Wildcats' 87-71 victory over No. 8 seed Iowa State at the KFC Yum! Center.

Overview: The top overall seed faced its first test of this tournament early in the second half, when Iowa State tied the score at 42. The sea of blue in the stands began to squirm.

But Kentucky turned in a brilliant response, seizing control of the game in breathtaking fashion, zooming ahead by 24 points in just 10 minutes of action. Point guard Marquis Teague had the best offensive game of his young career, Darius Miller scored 19 points off the bench and Terrence Jones' defense finally slowed down Iowa State's multidimensional Royce White.

The Wildcats hit 6 of 7 3-pointers and shot better than 60 percent in the second half. If they are going to make shots from the outside like that, nobody is going to beat them. Iowa State, which played a pretty solid game, found that out the hard way.

Turning point: After Iowa State erased an 11-point halftime deficit in short order, Kentucky went on a devastating run that showed how much talent it has. Jones, who's been on a tear all of March, started things off with a baseline drive for a dunk. Moments later, Jones grabbed a tough rebound in traffic, dribbled the length of the court and threw a lob to Anthony Davis for another slam. Then the rest of the Wildcats started getting into the act, and suddenly the Cyclones were blindsided by an 18-2 spurt.

Key player: Teague is not normally a big scorer for Kentucky, but Iowa State gave him open looks and he drained them on Saturday. Teague scored a career-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting. The freshman had not scored more than 16 points all season.

Key stat: Teague, Miller and Doron Lamb went a combined 22-of-33 for the field and made nine 3-pointers. Iowa State was just 3-of-22 on 3-point tries.

Miscellany: Twice early in the second half, White went coast-to-coast for dunks with no Kentucky players even attempting to impede his progress. After the second one, which started when he blocked Davis, White yelled out, "I'm the best player in the country!" White -- who had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists before fouling out -- was very impressive here this week and likely made himself some money with his performance against Kentucky's future pros. ... Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg was slapped with a technical foul with 11:35 left when he disputed a Cyclones turnover. Davis sank the ensuing two free throws. It was the first technical foul of Hoiberg's two-year coaching career. Kentucky's Jones got a technical for unsportsmanlike conduct with 10:11 left. That was the second technical levied against the Wildcats in two games, as Davis picked one up Thursday night for hanging on the rim. ... Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's mysterious late-season offensive swoon continues. The Wildcats freshman did not score before a meaningless layup in the final minute, though he did have seven rebounds.

What's next: Kentucky advances to play No. 4 seed Indiana in the Sweet 16 on Friday in Atlanta. The Hoosiers, of course, handed the Wildcats their only regular-season loss in a 73-72 thriller on Dec. 10 in Bloomington.