Sunday’s box score
Kentucky 78, No. 2 WSU 76
Too big in the end
Wichita State’s three-headed post position averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds during the first 35 games, plenty of production for a team with other scoring options.
On Sunday, Kadeem Coleby, Chadrack Lufile and Darius Carter combined for 11 points and three rebounds against a team that played two 7-footers and 6-foot-9, 250-pound freshman Julius Randle. The Wildcats out-rebounded WSU 32-23 and scored 16 second-chance points off 10 offensive rebounds.
“They come so hard,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “Julius Randle gets five offensive rebounds. He is a grown man and he comes really, really hard.”
Kentucky started its second-half rally with energy, especially on the backboards. Randle grabbed an offensive rebound and dunked to cut WSU’s lead to 40-33 early in the second half. Randle’s three-point play, after he grabbed two offensive rebounds, cut WSU’s lead to 40-39. Kentucky coach John Calipari called Dakari Johnson’s rebound of a missed free throw, with his team down 69-65, the play of the game.
The Shockers knew what to expect. Kentucky leads the SEC in rebound margin at plus-9.9.
“I was disappointed in our work on the glass, but that’s what they do,” Marshall said.
Randle did most of the damage, grabbing 10 rebounds. Forward James Young added eight.
“I’m not going to lay down for nobody,” Lufile said. “I did what I had to — get rebounds. It wasn’t like they were bullying me or pushing me down or pushing any of us down.”
Lufile scored six points and grabbed two rebounds in 17 minutes. Coleby, who started, played seven minutes and did not score or get a rebound. Carter added five points and a rebound.
Kentucky is 23-7 when out-rebounding an opponent. The Wildcats are the fifth team to out-rebound the Shockers.
Harrison OK to play
Kentucky freshman Andrew Harrison scored 20 points in 34 minutes, so his health was not an issue. Harrison hyper-extended his right elbow in Friday’s win over Kansas State.
On Saturday, he said he expected to play, although he wasn’t certain. Sunday, he made 6 of 9 shots and 7 of 9 free throws.
“He and I never even talked,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “All I asked him was, ‘Are you going to play?’ We’re not forcing him. If he can’t play, we have to figure it out.”
Harrison spent the night with ice on the elbow and constant attention from a trainer.
“I’m better now,” he said. “I’m good.”
Twin brother Aaron Harrison wasn’t surprised.
“I’ve known him for awhile,” he said. “I knew he was going to play. He wasn’t going to sit out this big of a game.”
Early on the charts
Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early played as well in the NCAA Tournament as any Shocker.
After scoring 31 points on Sunday, he has 135 for his career, most of any Shocker. He passed Kelly Pete, who scored 116 in six games in 1964 and 1965.
Early’s average of 19.3 points ranks fifth, behind Jamie Thompson’s average of 19.8 points. Dave Stallworth averaged 29.5 points in his two NCAA games in 1964.
Early is the fourth Shocker to score 30 or more points in an NCAA game, joining Stallworth (37), Thompson (36) and Kelly Pete (31). Early is the only Shocker with four 20-plus scoring efforts in NCAA play.
• Wichita State is 13-12 in 11 NCAA appearances.
• Kentucky is making its 53rd appearance and is 113-46. The Wildcats are 6-9 against No. 1 seeds.
• The Shockers allowed 70 or more points for the sixth time.
• WSU guard Fred VanVleet had six assists, giving him 193 this season. He finished one behind Warren Armstrong in 1967 atop WSU’s single-season list.
• WSU guard Ron Baker made four three-pointers and his 68 for the season ranks third on WSU’s single-season list.