Kentucky’s Bench Comes Up Big Against Louisville

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Senior guard Darius Miller made the most of his moment. Freshman forward Kyle Wiltjer did the same in his cameo.

Two guys who would likely start for any other team in the nation are bench players at Kentucky. They highlighted the fact that the Wildcats have overflowing athleticism in a 69-61 victory over Louisville in the NCAA semifinals Saturday night.

Miller scored 13 points, Wiltjer added five and both snuffed out the Cardinals’ momentum at key points with their play on both ends of the floor.

Wiltjer was among the nation’s top 20 recruits last year, but is largely overshadowed by Kentucky’s fantastic freshman starters: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague. Miller had started 69 games over his previous two seasons, but willingly went to the bench to make room for Kidd-Gilchrist.

While Kentucky’s freshmen and two sophomore starters get the spotlight, Miller and Wiltjer both provided key minutes as the Wildcats advanced to the national championship game for the first time since winning it all in 1998.

The top-seeded Wildcats will face the winner of Ohio State-Kansas on Monday night.

“It’s great stuff. I’m proud of this team. They’re coming together,” coach John Calipari said. “They’ve taken on shots and runs like Louisville did today, and they’ve held their own, so I’m proud of them.”

At moments when the Cardinals appeared poised to pounce, Miller or Wiltjer shot them down.

Miller, the closest thing to a hometown kid after growing up 65 miles from Lexington in Maysville, Ky., is often called the sixth starter by Calipari. Much like his role in the second half of games all season, he produced just when the Wildcats needed him.

With Kentucky leading 37-32, the 6-foot-9 Miller hit a jumper, then stripped Chane Behanan on consecutive plays that led to points and put Kentucky ahead 43-32. After the Cardinals rallied back and tied it, Miller was a major contributor in an 11-2 run that put Kentucky ahead to stay with a 3-pointer off a pass from Teague and a pair of free throws after his strong move to the basket against Kyle Kuric.

Wiltjer’s brief appearance proved productive, too. The 6-foot-9 forward from Portland, Ore., played all 8 of his minutes before the break and made a pair of key plays after Louisville scored five consecutive points to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 31-28.

Teague found Wiltjer for a 3-pointer, then Wiltjer stole the ball from Chris Smith on the ensuing possession. Despite being teased as the slowest of the quick ‘Cats, Wiltjer pushed the play and ended up finding Doron Lamb, who was fouled and hit one of two free throws to give Kentucky a 35-28 halftime lead.

That would be it for Wiltjer, but that would be plenty to prove just how effective Kentucky’s bench can be.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


  • tom sharp

    If they’re smart they’ll spend all of Sunday practicing free throws! That is their Achilles heel!

  • buy vpn

    Excellent points altogether, you simply won a brand new reader. What may you suggest about your publish that you simply made some days in the past? Any positive?

  • spirituality in business

    Thanks , I have just been looking for information about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I have came upon till now. However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you positive in regards to the supply?|What i do not understood is in truth how you are now not really much more well-favored than you may be now. You’re so intelligent.

  • montreal epilation laser

    Normally I do not learn post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.

  • An interesting read. I actually have some more thoughts about this. Do you accept guest articles on your blog?

    I just like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and test again right here regularly. I’m rather sure I’ll be informed lots of new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the following!

  • natural links

    I am no longer sure the place you are getting your info, however great topic. I needs to spend a while finding out more or working out more. Thank you for fantastic info I was in search of this information for my mission.

  • monopostes publicitarios

    Hi, Neat post. There is a problem together with your website in internet explorer, could check this? IE nonetheless is the market leader and a big element of other people will leave out your fantastic writing due to this problem.

  • incall Montreal

    Excellent web site. Plenty of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you on your effort!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live