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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

March Meh-ness: Kentucky’s muted initial reaction to Final Four berth

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

There was one notable similarity between Kentucky's first win of the season back on Nov. 11 over Marist and the Wildcats' resounding 82-70 victory over Baylor on Sunday in Atlanta, which sent them back to the Final Four.

It was the celebration. Or, rather, the lack of immediate jubilation.

After pushing Baylor aside with a commanding performance, Kentucky bucked the trend of teams erupting into hugs and fist pumps as the final buzzer sounded.

Instead, the most lasting image in the game's immediate aftermath? Reserve freshman wing Kyle Wiltjer gingerly walking towards his teammates approaching the handshake line with a thunderous … golf clap.

Sure, they ultimately rejoiced, wore the hats and T-shirts and cut down the nets, but they acted like a team with bigger achievements on its mind.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, though.

For one, a Final Four trip felt like a birthright for Kentucky this season. Easily the nation's most talented, complete team, the Wildcats have played up to that billing at every point so far in the NCAA tournament.

Also, the game didn't have much drama, so that kind of an ending was sort of expected.

The Wildcats' offense was balanced, they led by 20 at the break, Baylor never seriously threatened again, and on top of it, Kentucky hit a whopping 30 (!!!) free throws.

It was dominating in every way, and Kentucky acted just like it afterwards.

It's that showing of maturity that will keep the Wildcats as the odds-on favorites moving on to New Orleans for the season's final weekend and its biggest stage.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for Follow him on Twitter at @ryanmgreene.

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