Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shines in Sweet 16 win over Indiana



Michael Kidd-Gilchrist bounded off the court past screaming, adoring fans and popped his jersey to display “KENTUCKY” even more prominently.

“How sweet it is!” Kidd-Gilchrist called out, a ringing endorsement for the beauty of a game that played out well past midnight on Friday.

Both UK and Indiana turned in a splendid performance — but in the end, it was UK’s victory, 102-90, to advance to the Elite Eight.

The Cats made it there through a multitude of factors. It’s never one thing, not in a Sweet 16 game, and especially not when there’s that many points scored.

At the top of those reasons, however, was Kidd-Gilchrist, who broke out of a four-game scoring slump with 24 points. Of course it would be Kidd-Gilchrist leading the charge in a game that required this much energy. It was non-stop, frenetic basketball — a combined 14 turnovers in a game that had 192 points — and what about that doesn’t suit Kidd-Gilchrist’s non-stop, frenetic motor?

“I can go all day,” Kidd-Gilchrist said, and then realized what time it was. “All night, I mean. What time is it, one o’clock?”

The time of day didn’t matter to him as he emerged as the Cats’ go-to guy. It didn’t start out that way; in the first half, Indiana left him wide open, daring him to shoot.

“I was kind of mad about it,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “That was my first time experiencing it. I didn’t know what to do at first. I was like, what is this?”

Kidd-Gilchrist tried to make the jumpers. He hit some. He missed others. By the time the second half rolled around, though, Kidd-Gilchrist knew where to go: inside. He attacked the basket in transition and attacked the ball when it was in the air. Of his 10 rebounds, six were offensive.

“That’s what I do best is rebound and put it back in,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “That’s an easy way to score.”

Head coach John Calipari said he told Kidd-Gilchrist he was due for a big game — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Anthony Davis found himself in foul trouble just six minutes into the game. He had gotten in foul trouble against Indiana the first time the teams met. Every pundit on the planet had him staying out of foul trouble as a key to the game. Now, he was in it. He sat stone-faced on the bench through much of the first half, remaining the only one sitting down as his teammates on the bench jumped up to celebrate good plays by his teammates on the court. He was, in a sense, alone.

Without him, UK’s defense struggled. And although it never really recovered — Indiana’s 90 points and 52.2 percent shooting were both season highs against the Cats — Davis certainly helped in the second half. He scored 7 of his 9 points and grabbed 10 of his 12 rebounds in the last half of the game.

“He was the presence on the floor we needed,” Twany Beckham said.

Minutes after Kidd-Gilchrist bounded off that court, Doron Lamb slowly walked off, shaking his head like he couldn’t believe what had just occurred.

Or maybe he couldn’t believe the teammate who left the floor just before him.

“We’re winding it down,” Calipari said of Kidd-Gilchrist, “and he’s stepping it up.”