Men's Basketball

College basketball’s most accomplished school stands in Buffalo’s way of dream run

Kentucky guard Quade Green pulls up for a 3-pointer against Davidson in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Thursday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise.
Kentucky guard Quade Green pulls up for a 3-pointer against Davidson in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Thursday at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Buffalo

Region: South

When: 3:15 p.m. Saturday (CBS)

Vegas line: Kentucky by 6

Why Kentucky should win: The Wildcats are No. 4 in the nation in 3-point defense (30 percent). Five Kentucky players average at least 9.5 ppg. Even without making a 3 for the first time in 30 years Thursday, the interior presence was tough to stop. The Wildcats are 19th nationally in percentage of points from 2-point range (56.6 percent), so smaller, less athletic teams are often at a loss or forced to foul.

Why Buffalo could win: All the mojo is on the Bulls’ side after their 21-point win over Arizona. Their pace can frustrate a lot of teams, which it certainly did the Wildcats. The Bulls turned 10 turnovers into 18 points. Buffalo’s 26 games with 80 or more points leads the nation. Its guard-heavy style could be a challenge for Kentucky if Buffalo can hit its shots.

Notable: Kentucky’s freshmen are averaging 86.9 percent of the team’s points. ... Buffalo has led by double digits in 22 straight games, but is 1-3 in games this season decided by three points or fewer. ... Buffalo’s win over Arizona was the largest ever by a No. 13 seed. ... The two teams are 232nd (Kentucky) and 242nd (Buffalo) nationally in free-throw percentage. ... Buffalo is in its third NCAA Tournament, Kentucky is in its 58th.

Quotable: “One strength I think they have is their size. They’re a good rebounding team and stuff like that, but I don’t think they can stay with us in transition ... they’ve got a lot of big guys, they play a little bit too much, and I think that will play in our favor.” — Buffalo forward Nick Perkins

Prediction: Kentucky 82, Buffalo 80

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