Kentucky rejects Wichita State's upset bid
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kentucky's Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo combined for 27 points and 12 rebounds on Sunday, but it wasn't until each delivered a clutch blocked shot in the final 11 seconds that the No. 2 seed Wildcats earned a South Regional Sweet 16 berth.
Monk, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, blocked Markis McDuffie's potential game-winning shot, then sank two free throws with 10.6 seconds remaining, and Adebayo blocked Landry Shamet's 3-point attempt just ahead of the buzzer, giving Kentucky a 65-62 victory against No. 10 seed Wichita State in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"I was just playing straight-up defense," Monk said of his block on McDuffie. "We knew we couldn't foul. I was just playing solid. I just contested well."
After Monk's two free throws, it was Adebayo's turn to join the late-game block party.
"We were just playing defense," Adebayo said of his block of Shamet. "He pump-faked, and I knew he had to shoot it, so I just went up and tried to block it."
Kentucky coach John Calipari said he thought briefly about ordering his team to foul Shamet.
"It entered my mind when they messed around with the ball, but I hadn't said anything," Calipari said. "When it got down to four or five seconds, I'm thinking we've gotta foul. But these guys guarded it. We knew what we were doing, switching everything and playing high."
The Wildcats (31-5) took a 58-51 lead with 4:06 remaining when freshman De'Aaron Fox made a steal near midcourt and drove for an uncontested dunk, prompting a Wichita State timeout, but the Shockers rallied, pulling to within 63-62 on freshman Shamet's 3-pointer with 55.7 seconds remaining.
"We came up one possession short," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "I wish we had a pass to do it again. On Markis' shot, I wish we would have driven to the basket. We also didn't have good ball security in the last 10 minutes."
The result extended Kentucky's winning streak to 13 and snapped Wichita State's 16-game winning streak. The Shockers finish 31-5.
Kentucky advances to play either UCLA or Cincinnati in the Sweet 16 in Memphis.
Monk and Fox each scored 14 to lead the Wildcats, and fellow freshman Adebayo added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Shamet led Wichita State with 20 points, and Shaquille Morris added 11. Shamet had an 18-point second half.
"I just tried to stay aggressive," Shamet said of leading the Wichita State comeback. "But I didn't do what I was supposed to do in the end. I really didn't play well in the first half. I had to get it going.
"Kentucky has two NBA guards that really know how to play. Monk and Fox are really good."
The game was a second-round rematch from 2014 when No. 8 seed Kentucky ended No. 1 seed Wichita State's 35-game winning streak, 78-76.
Kentucky got seven points each from Monk and Dominique Hawkins and overcame 33.3 percent field goal shooting (10 of 30) to lead 26-24 through 20 minutes.
Wichita State, which got eight first-half points from Morris, enjoyed a 14-6 advantage in first-half points in the paint but shot 30.3 percent from the field (10 of 33) and was outrebounded 22-21 during the opening 20 minutes.
NOTES: Wichita State advanced out of Friday's first round with a 64-58 victory against No. 7 seed Dayton, limiting the Flyers to 31 percent field goal shooting (18 of 58). ... The Shockers were making their fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament's Round of 32. ... Wichita State's 16-game winning streak was the second longest in school history behind the 2013-2014 team's 35-game streak ... The Shockers' starting lineup is comprised entirely of underclassmen. ... Kentucky advanced to the second round with a 79-70 Friday victory against Northern Kentucky, the 24th time in its past 25 NCAA tournament appearances that it has won its opening-round game. ... The Wildcats won their third consecutive SEC regular-season championship and their 48th in school history. ... Kentucky starts three freshmen, a sophomore and senior F Derek Willis.