The anticipation was more than palpable in the week leading up to this rematch between a powerhouse Kentucky Wildcats team and an Indiana team on the rise. Indiana, who took down three teams in the top five this year, shook the Earth with this Cinderella season giving them a tangible opportunity to take down the unanimous number one ranked team in the nation yet again.
There is much for a Hoosier native to dwell on from the first meeting on December 10th. Perhaps the most influential event on the outcome of the game was Kentucky’s star freshman Anthony Davis getting into early foul trouble sitting out much of the first half. This and the fact that the contest was held in one of the loudest environments and toughest places to play in the country this season. The Hoosiers rode the 3-ball hitting 9 in the game and outperformed Kentucky on the charity stripe to sneak by the No. 1 team. The difference in free throws was only 4, but considering the end result it is clear that IU needed each and every one of them.
The tables more than turned in Kentucky’s favor in Friday’s game. It was eerily similar to the teams’ first match-up, only in opposite fashion. For example, not only did Kentucky outperform IU at the line, they decimated it. Their 35 free points almost doubled Indiana’s 17 attempts. This factor along with IU’s struggle to get hot behind the arc drastically reduced the chances of the Hoosiers to emerge victorious. Coming into the game, IU was vastly undermanned in terms of depth especially after the tragic end to senior leader Verdell Jones III’s career at Indiana. Kentucky had no problems exploiting this fact and responded via senior 6th man’s 19 of UK’s 22 bench points in the game. Although Indiana relies heavily on the efforts of Matt Roth and his sharpshooting ability, Roth was unable to find quality looks and made no shots for Indiana. The energy was there for both teams and Indiana has nothing to be ashamed of putting up a hefty 90 points against Kentucky, certainly the most from any team this year. The Wildcats only supported everybody’s perception of them as the clear cut number one in the land in this electrically exciting game.