It was billed as the battle of opposite processes, two examples of how to run college basketball programs. On one sideline sat the freshmen-studded Kentucky Wildcats, with all their McDonalds all-American tags and five-star labels, seeded eighth in the Midwest Region. Across the scorer’s table was No. 1 Wichita State, still unbeaten in its quest to return to the Final Four, filled with experienced players who, for better or worse, did not receive nearly as much attention exiting high school.

It was billed, some wrote, as one of the best second-round games in NCAA tournament history, if only because of the contrasting methods employed to reach this point.

At intermission, with Wichita State leading 37-31, it has not disappointed.

Let’s start with the last highlight first. With the clock winding down, Wichita State plucked another steal — one of eight Wildcats turnovers — and off to the races the Shockers went, with point guard Fred VanVleet leading the way. He threaded a perfect bounce pass to Cleanthony Early, who rose up, stuck his hand into Willie Cauley-Stein’s face and finished the emphatic slam.

“I just wish we had more time in the half,” Shockers Coach Gregg Marshall told CBS during a halftime interview. “That’s a play that ignites you for the rest of the half.”

Plenty more plays could have fit that description. Like another bounce pass in transition from VanVleet.

Or this.


Our cups runneth over.

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