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Notes: Fans get their wish with UK-Indiana rematch

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With Eric Lindsey, CoachCal.com

In an effort to bring you the most comprehensive coverage of the Kentucky basketball team's postseason run, CoachCal.com and Cat Scratches will be teaming up throughout UK's journey in the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament. You can find stories on the team at CoachCal.com and UKathletics.com/blog.


LOUISVILLE - Darius Miller contested the shot, so he didn't actually see Christian Watford's dagger tickle the twine as the buzzer sounded.

"I just heard the reaction and knew," Miller said.

After that, the only thing he was concerned about was his safety as thousands of emotionally crazed Indiana fans stormed the court.

"They pretty much swarmed me and Marquis (Teague) and we were trying to get out," Miller said.

"That's all I can remember."

That and the pain.

Thirty minutes after Kentucky beat Iowa State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, Miller talked about the anger and disappointment UK felt in Bloomington, Ind., after Indiana knocked the Cats from atop the polls and from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Now, with Indiana's victory over VCU on Saturday, Kentucky will get a shot at a shot at redemption with a bid to the Elite Eight on the line next week in Atlanta. And while the Cats downplayed the storyline that will define the next week - revenge - they didn't dismiss the joy of getting another shot at the Hoosiers.

"That was a rough day for us," said freshman point guard Marquis Teague, an Indianapolis native. "We hate to lose any game, but the way we lost, that just made it that much worse."

Kentucky's national player of the year candidate Anthony Davis was saddled with foul trouble for much of that game and is looking forward to another chance at the Hoosiers on a neutral floor.

"Their whole crowd got into it," Davis said. "That was our first road game as freshmen, the first time we were in someone else's gym. Actually, I was kind of nervous the first time."

Watford's game-winning jumper, the climax of one of the best games of the college basketball season, has since been replayed over and over again as a part of an ESPN commercial to promote its mobile app.

Following their regular-season-ending win at Florida, the Wildcats admitted to their frustration with the ad, crediting its constant replays with motivation to never lose again. Now that they actually get another shot, Terrence Jones is encouraging ESPN to play it some more.

"They can show the commercial every break from now until the game for me and the whole team," Jones said. "Hopefully they keep showing the commercial and give us motivation."

As if the rivalry between Kentucky and Indiana fans wasn't fierce enough, the two fan bases seethed venom after the game, exchanging shots of emotion in the weeks after. When the brackets were released Sunday and the opportunity to play IU in the Sweet 16 was presented, UK fans were chomping at the bit for another shot.

Now they've got it.

"I knew we were going to be playing (Indiana)," John Calipari said. "No question. Has nothing to do with matchups or storylines or any of that. I knew we would be playing them."

The players, however, downplayed looking ahead to a possible rematch, noting that it's important that they treat it as "just another game."

"It's a crazy tournament," Jones said. "I wasn't looking for anything. I know every team is playing for its season. I don't expect anybody to win until they do it. Now that's it's here it's going to be a good game."  

Said Miller: "I know we're a different team and so are they. We'll see who the better team is."

In defending White, Cats give an inch to take a mile


Heading into a matchup against the Kentucky team he very nearly joined, Iowa State's Royce White was the single biggest story.

Headline after headline was written about the 6-foot-8, 270-pound point forward, and for large portions of Saturday night's third-round game in the KFC Yum! Center, White appeared to be worth every word written about him. He almost single-handedly kept his Cyclone team in a game against the tournament's No. 1 overall seed until a back-breaking 34-10 in the second half.

Even so, none of the Wildcats batted an eye at his 23-point, nine-rebound effort.

It was all part of the plan.

"It was pretty much me one on one and let him do whatever he wants to do, just don't leave shooters and let him do any passes out for 3s and just stay out with high hands," said Jones, who was the primary defender on White. "I think we did a good job on that."

A good job indeed.

With Jones isolated on the dangerous White, UK's perimeter players focused their attention on limiting the Cyclones' dead-eye shooters, who rank among the nation's best from 3-point range.

"We knew that was one of their strong points, so we were trying to take that away from them," Miller said. "We didn't want them getting any open looks or be comfortable with what they wanted to do. We wanted to come out and contest every shot and make every shot a tough one."

Chris Allen and Scott Christopherson, who had made a combined 141 3s coming into the game against UK, hit just 2-of-14 shots from deep against dogged Wildcat defense. As a team, Iowa State made a season-low three 3-pointers in 22 attempts.

"They weren't getting the shots off they normally get off," Teague said. "We weren't giving them as many clean looks at the basket like they probably were used to getting so I think they were a little bothered by (Kentucky's length)."

Crazy Friday grabs UK's attention

With a day in between games, the Wildcats - like much of America - were enthralled by an unprecedented day of action in the NCAA Tournament on Friday. Missouri and Duke, both two seeds, fell to Norfolk State and Lehigh, respectively, while double-digit seeds Ohio, South Florida, North Carolina State and Purdue also notched upset wins.

Seeing those games and how quickly the hard work put in over a long season can be laid to waste certainly had the Wildcats ready to go against Iowa State.

"Just watching the tournament, seeing all these other teams go down when they're not supposed to, that really opened up our eyes, I think," Miller said. "That really opened up our eyes, I think. We knew we had to come out with high intensity because we know anybody can be beat any night. This is one and done so you've got to play like it's your last.

"We knew that had to be a terrible feeling for those teams so we had to come out and survive - survive and advance."

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