BOISE, Idaho — Saying there were no tears shed in the Kentucky locker room after the death of the nation’s longest 3-point streak would be an extreme understatement.
No one cared that, for the first time since Nov. 26, 1988 (1,047 games), Kentucky didn’t make a 3-pointer. The reason? Because No. 5 seed Kentucky beat No. 12 seed Davidson 78-73 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I guess y’all was paying attention to it,” point guard Quade Green said. “We wasn’t. We didn’t really know at all. I don’t think nobody in here really cared about that.”
Another reason? Some of the players responsible for the streak’s undoing didn’t even know the details of it. Freshman Kevin Knox, who went 0 of 3 from distance, was born more than 10 years after the streak began.
Kentucky was 0 of 6 from beyond the arc. Davidson was 11 of 33. The contrast of styles was obvious, and Kentucky’s method of winning was antiquated.
“We just wanted to get to the rim,” guard Hamidou Diallo, who wasn’t aware of the streak, said. “We wanted to show that we feel like no team can really stop us from getting to the basket. That was the point of emphasis today and that’s what we went out there and proved. When we get to the rack, no one can stop us. We can shoot threes as well, but we just chose to go to the rack.”
Kentucky had a significant size advantage against Davidson — the primary reason John Calipari’s Cats only attempted six 3-pointers. Kentucky, outscored 33-0 from distance, outscored Davidson 36-20 in the paint.
“Even when I took that one three, they told me, ‘Why would you shoot the three? Every time we went to the rim, we got something good.’ So the game plan was just go to the rim,” forward Wenyen Gabriel said. “The streak ended, but I mean, it’s been 30 years. It had to end sometime.”
The college 3-point line is 20.75 feet, and Kentucky is shooting 35.6 percent from behind it this season.
Kentucky made five or fewer 3-pointers in 20 games this season. The Cats are a below-average team from behind the arc, but they shot 47 percent from deep in their three SEC Tournament games.
“We can’t go 0-for from the 3-point line,” Calipari said. “You have to make some shots. And I always say this: You don’t have to make them all. You just can’t miss them all. You can’t miss every one. And then you can’t miss them bad because they’re demoralizing.”
Of note: If you’re looking for a reason Calipari and Co. should care about a propensity to go cold from 3-point range — they shot 22 percent during a four-game losing streak in early February — consider his first Kentucky team. In the 2010 Elite Eight, a team with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and three other first-round NBA draft picks got upset by West Virginia because they missed their first 20 threes and finished 4 of 32 from beyond the arc.
The record streak will be etched into the books at 1,047 games, a mark that will surely be surpassed given the evolution of offense.
A new Kentucky 3-point streak will likely start Saturday in Boise.
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