Cameron Mills called Kentucky's bench the "best in the country."
No one, the day after Kentucky beat the University of Utah for the national basketball title, 78-69, will argue.The biggest difference in the game was between the two benches.
Kentucky got 25 points, 9 rebounds and four blocked shots from its subs.
Utah got 7 points and 4 rebounds, all from Britton Johnsen.
Pre-game predictions from several sportswriters at the event did, in fact, give Kentucky the edge in the bench department.
"All year we've been working hard to prove ourselves," said Mills, who came off the bench to hit two key three-point shots that started the Wildcats on a run that lifted them into the lead in the late stages of the second half.
Kentucky got 8 points from Mills, 7 points from Jamaal Magloire and 10 points from Heshimu Evans.
Evans said of his role that he was to come out and rebound and score, "to give my team a lift. So I was hoping we could get a spark and we did."
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said he told Evans "we needed him to be more active on the boards and do a better job defensively. His job was to run down those loose balls. They left him open and he hit a couple of big threes for us."
Utah got 7 points from Johnsen on 2-of-3 field goals and 1-of-2 three-point shots.
David Jackson, Trace Caton and Jordie McTavish did not score, nor did they grab a rebound.
Johnsen had three turnovers for Utah and Evans had three for Kentucky.
1998: Kentucky 78, Utah 69 (NCAA)
1997: Kentucky 72, Utah 59 (NCAA)
1996: Kentucky 101, Utah 70 (NCAA)
1993: Kentucky 83, Utah 62 (NCAA)
1976: Utah 70, Kentucky 68 (@ UK)
1954: Kentucky 70, Utah 65 (@ UK)
1947: Utah 49, Kentucky 45 (NIT)
1944: Kentucky 46, Utah 38 (NIT)
... Kentucky Utah
Points 78 69
Field-goal percentage 50.9% 43.6%
First half 45.2% 57.7%
Second half 57.7% 29.6%
3-point percentage 29.4% 28.6%
First half 0% 45.5%
Second half 33.3% 25%
First half 3/3 7/9
... 100% 77.8%
Second half 12/14 10/13
... 85.7% 76.9%
Rebounds 24 39
Turnovers 18 11
Blocks 6 2
Steals 8 7
Bench scoring 25 7