Thursday night gave us two Sweet 16 games – Wisconsin/UNC and Arizona/Xavier – that were compelling right down to the final minute. Another game, Notre Dame/Wichita State wasn’t all that close, but at least it was entertaining.
And then there was Kentucky/West Virginia, which was easily the most surprising result of the night.
“I mean, I expected them to win, but the way they did it, the impressive fashion that they did it, the total domination – that was amazing, amazing to watch,” ESPN college basketball analyst Miles Simon said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “That was the most surprising thing – the margin of victory.”
Kentucky doubled up West Virginia, 78-39. The Wildcats led 18-2 out of the gate and by 41 in the second half. They held West Virginia to 24.1 percent shooting form the floor, including 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) from three-point range.
Daxter Miles Jr., if you’re curious, was held scoreless. The freshman guard guaranteed victory over Kentucky, but he was 0-of-3 from the floor and had one rebound in 19 minutes.
Did Miles make a mistake talking trash?
“No, I didn’t (think he did),” Simon said. “I’m okay with the young man. It’s a different era, different age. Everyone is so friendly on the court all the time. I think Daxter Miles – being a Chicago kid – pretty much he was brash. He had some bravado. He just didn’t back it up. If you’re going to talk, you kind of got to back it up. He didn’t back it up. I’m okay with it. That’s not the reason they lost the game. Did Kentucky take it very personally and want to punish him? Yes, you can see it by Tyler Ulis’ post-game quote (and) Devin Booker’s tweet that it was on their minds. Those guys are all in the same class as him – all freshman. So they probably have ran by him at some point in AAU ball. But no, I was totally okay with it.”
Gottlieb more or less agreed. After all, West Virginia was trying to get under the Wildcats’ skin and wanted them to play out of character and out of rhythm.
As it turns out, however, Kentucky is very skilled and very poised.
The only thing Gottlieb didn’t like is that Miles didn’t say much after the game. In fact, he was almost mute.
“He’s 18 years old,” Miles said. “He didn’t know how to handle that type of adversity, and I’m sure he was not ready for the onslaught that was going to come at him after the game – asking him questions and why he did it or so on and so forth. But he did come out, and I know he did give us the Marshawn Lynch answers that Kentucky (was) a great team, which he should. It’ll be a great learning lesson for him. He’ll come back stronger. Daxter Miles . . . is a good player. He can be an all-conference type of player by the time he’s done in a Mountaineer uniform.”