It always takes a Herculean effort for 15 seeds to pull off First Round upsets in the NCAA Tournament. With P.J. Washington sitting on the Kentucky sidelines with his left foot in a hard cast, Abilene Christian’s already-slim chances improved just a bit.
However, the talent disparity between Kentucky and Abilene Christian was made quite clear from the outset, with UK’s size advantage and athleticism proving to be the difference makers as they sailed to a 79-44 victory over ACU.
Unfortunately for the purple Wildcats, the importance of size to ACU’s loss could be summed up by this tweet sent early in the first half from Lexington Herald-Leader writer Jerry Tipton:
Abilene Christian starting no one taller than 6-7. Heights of starters are 6-7, 6-6, 6-2, 6-2 and 5-7. The 5-7 player, Damien Daniels, had his role elevated after the team suspended two players in late February— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) March 21, 2019
Given this massive disparity between the height of the two teams, the expected key to Abilene Christian pulling off an upset was their ability to efficiently knock down three-pointers.
However, their offense was anything but efficient in the first half, as they went into the locker room down 39-13. Kentucky’s defense is good, but it’s reasonable to expect a team to score more than 13 points in 20 minutes of basketball.
In the second half, ACU’s offense was able to find a bit more of its groove, but most of the damage was already done. ACU allowed far too many post points in the first half, and the damage was done by the time that they could find anything resembling an offensive rhythm.
As one would expect, Jaren Lewis led ACU in scoring, putting up 17 points as well as 5 rebounds in today’s losing effort. This is certainly not the result ACU wanted in their first NCAA Tournament appearance, but it was always going to be an uphill battle.
Now begins the work for a repeat tournament trip for Abilene Christian.