Like a massive, unstoppable blue wave, Kentucky hit quickly and just kept coming. There was no escape for West Virginia, no place to hide.
The Wildcats were as advertised: too big, too strong, too everything. Just too good.
Perfect and pulverizing.
Trey Lyles scored 14 points, Andrew Harrison added 13 and the unbeaten Wildcats, chasing history and a ninth national title, made their 37th straight win look easy, blowing past the Mountaineers 78-39 on Thursday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
”They were what I thought they were,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. ”That’s the best defensive team I think that I’ve ever coached against. And when they’re making shots, there’s nobody going to beat them.”
The tourney’s top seed and an overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets next month in Indianapolis, the Wildcats (37-0) jumped to an 18-2 lead, built it to 26 in the first half and advanced to Saturday’s regional final to play third-seeded Notre Dame, an 81-70 winner over Wichita State.
The Fighting Irish may need to call Rudy, consult with Digger Phelps and wake up the echoes from some of those stunning upsets in football and hoops they have pulled off in the past.
Kentucky is a monster this March.
”They did what they had to do,” West Virginia forward Devin Williams said. ”You can’t stop something that’s destined.”
With stunning ease, the Wildcats took apart the Mountaineers (25-10), who led the nation in steals and figured their full-court press would at least bother Kentucky into some turnovers. Not only did the press not work, West Virginia shot only 24.1 percent (13 of 54) against the Wildcats, who resemble a forest of blue-tinted redwoods inside the paint.
West Virginia didn’t eclipse 20 points until the 11:41 mark of the second half.