Given the storied historiesof Kentucky and UCLA, it's ironic most of the pregame hype surrounded a trio of freshmen whose traditions at the schools date back less than a year. In the end, UK's two super froshes,De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, got the better of highly touted Lonzo Ball as Kentucky thumped UCLA, 86-75, to advance to the Elite Eight.
Kentucky will face North Carolina Sunday, with the winner headed to Phoenix for the Final Four.
Here are three reasons why the Wildcats are advancing and the Bruins are headed home.
1.De'Aaron Fox made history— Think of all the great Kentucky players who've had big NCAA tournament games. Fox looked as good as any of them on this night. The freshman guard scored 39 points, hitting 13-of-20 from the field. That's the most points scored in a gameby a freshmanplayer in NCAA Tournament history. Fox said he was especially motivated going against Ball. "Going against someone like that gets your competitive juices going," Fox told CBS after the game. Fox so outplayed his freshman rival that one Twitter pundit joked, "Lavar Ball says De'Aaron Fox is actually his son."
2. Malik Monk did just what the Wildcats needed— Can the sensational freshman guard join the long list of other Kentucky one-and-done stars who reached the Final Four — or an NCAA championship — before heading for the NBA? Monk hit severalshots when the Wildcats needed them, going 8-of-17 from the floor for 21 points. Like Fox and Ball, he is going to make some NBA team very happy next season.
3. Lonzo Ball and Bryce Alford did not have good games— The two backcourt mates, who came in averaging a combined 30.3 points per game, found tough going againstthe Wildcats.Both players only had eight points apiece until the game was out of hand in the final minute or so, and Alford finished with 13, Ball with 10. Ball also struggled on the defensive end. This is not enough to hurt Ball's draft prospects — he's a projectedhigh lottery pick — but it's certainly not the way he wanted to leave UCLA.