CLEVELAND–Trey Lyles scored 14 points and the unbeaten Wildcats pummeled West Virginia 78-39 on Thursday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky is the top seed in the NCAA Tournament and the huge favorite to cut down the nets next weekend in Indianapolis. The Mountaineers knew they had a large task at hand if they wanted to stop the Wildcats, but things went south quickly.
West Virginia led the nation in steals, but their full-court press didn’t even phase Kentucky. On top of that, the Mountaineers shot an abysmal 24.1 percent from the field and were 2 of 15 from beyond-the-arc.
Devin Williams picked up two quick personal fouls, and Coach Bob Huggins was forced to sit the team’s leading rebounder.
The Wildcats went on an 18-2 run, hitting three’s, jump shots, and even alley-oops over the top of the Mountaineers.
Juwan Staten broke the Mountaineers’ scoring drought with a three from the wing.
West Virginia struggled in the paint and Kentucky’s size was too much for the Mountaineers.
The Wildcats led 44-18 at the half.
The second half was a similar story for West Virginia. The Mountaineers scored one point just over eight minutes into the half.
Andrew Harrison tallied 13 points and Aaron Harrison had 12 points, all coming in the first half. Dakari Johnson added 12 points and Willie Cauley-Stein grabbed 10 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Staten led the Mountaineers with 14 points. Daxter Miles Jr. was scoreless.
Miles told the media on Wednesday “They’re gonna be 36-1.”
Huggins didn’t feel his players’ confidence affected Kentucky’s play.
“It was a freshman that said it and I’m kind of happy he had some confidence,” said Huggins. “I’m kind of happy he wasn’t hiding under a chair somewhere, you know? There’s nothing wrong with having some confidence and wanting to go out and compete.”
Seniors Staten and Gary Browne ended their careers in the old gold and blue on Thursday night.
Kentucky will continue its quest for perfection on Saturday against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.