BRENDON D. MILLER – CAMEN MEDIA – March 14, 2015 – NASHVILLE
Semifinal Saturday here in Nashville began for the CATS with everyone in the gym, and across the country, expecting the CATS to put a beat down on the Auburn Tigers, and the CATS did not disappoint. Auburn coach Bruce Pearl stated post game that the CATS are a complete team with no weaknesses, and that this was, no question, the best team that he has ever coached against. High praise from Pearl.
The CATS showed no signs of the slow starts that had sometimes plagued them throughout the year, and again on Friday against Florida. Auburn took a 2 to 0 lead on a jumper from Malcolm Canada, thirty seconds in to the game, but the CATS immediately answered 13 seconds later with a three by Aaron Harrison from the left corner, and the barrage was on. The CATS led 15 – 4 at the 15:50 media timeout and stretched the lead to 28 – 8 at the 11:51 mark. The play of the first half was a drive and dime by Tyler Ulis to Willie Cauley-Stein for a monster dunk and 1 at the 7:15 mark extending the CATS lead to 32-14. The play of the second half was a fast break lob from Devin Booker to Willie for another rim rattler and 1, which Willie again converted.
Today was Willie’s day and he was the CATS main man with a stat line of a team-high 18 points and 7 rebounds, with 3 blocks and 2 assists. Cal said that this performance is what Willie can do when he is engaged and plays to his potential. Cal stated that the decision was made by the coaching staff that K.T. Harrell would be the defensive focus after he put up 29 against LSU on Friday. As a result, Willie (at 7-1) would guard him. By the way, Harrell is a 6-4 guard. Harrell ended up with 13 points, but 11 of those came from the line, and he was held to 1 for 12 shooting from the field. Willie said post game that the defensive effort spurred his offense. This spread to the rest of the team.
The CATS shot a blistering 56.3% going 27 of 48 from the field and 7 of14 from beyond the arc. The CATS again dominated the foul line going 30 for 35 (85.7%). Tyler Ulis led the CATS with 6 assists and also had 6 points and 5 rebounds. Five CATS were in double figures led by 18 from WCS, 15 from Andrew, and 12 each from Lyles, Booker and Aaron. The CATS had 17 assists on 27 baskets, with only 10 turnovers. Pretty strong performance across the board.
What kind of team has the ability to have their power forward guard an opposing team’s guard, and puts up the stats quoted above? Answer is a complete team with interchangeable parts. Cal said that Trey Lyles is a great example of the depth of this team, as he is being mostly played at the 3, but he is dominant when played at the 4, his natural position. But Cal said he can’t play Lyles at 4, because Willie is the 4, and he cannot play Willie at the 5 because Karl-Antony is the 5, and then you throw Dakari and Marcus in as well. Problems, Problems. Nice to have those type.
Such is the case when you have a “complete team”. The result is more than occasional domination, which we saw today. 33 and 0 and on to Sunday we go.