CBS Sports Kentucky casually and definitively put an end to West Virginia's season and likely an end to future predictions by Mountaineers freshman Daxter Miles Jr. with a 78-39 victory in the Midwest Regional Semifinals.
Miles Jr. -- who did not score a point against Kentucky -- will go down at worst as a college basketball posterchild perma-meme or, if he's lucky, merely a vague point of reference going forward. Worst NCAA Tournament prediction ever? Yeah. With UK matching Louisville's Sweet 16 record-setting 39-point margin of victory vs. Arizona in 2009, Miles Jr. could not have been more wrong. Don't prophesize victory against leviathan programs stockpiled with future pros.
Miles Jr. was the one who said Kentucky would be 36-1 after this game. Instead, UK now at 37-0, it moves on to Saturday's Elite Eight game against No. 8 Notre Dame.
When West Virginia's locker room opened for the media after the game, Miles Jr. was not under his placard, not sitting by his locker. He wasn't on the other side of the building either, meeting with the media .
Miles Jr. was instead preparing himself for strangers' faces to cram into his personal space, to deal with something that clearly got bigger than he could have ever expected. Tucked around a corner, in the team's bathroom, Miles Jr. was waiting out the mob. When a media member approached one of his teammates for an interview in the small hallway leading to the bathroom, Miles Jr. then dipped into the handicap lavatory and closed the door behind him, his frizzy hair peeking above the tall stall.
WVU assistant Erik Martin sauntered over and said a few quiet words to Miles Jr. His head deliberately shook at the freshman. After Martin stepped away, Miles Jr. came out of the bathroom a few seconds later, and when he sat down, he went full Marshawn Lynch.
"Kentucky played great," Miles Jr. said after being asked if he had any regrets over the faulty prediction. He repeated that phrase or some variation of it approximately 10-12 times over the next minute. He's just an 18-year-old kid, in his first NCAA Tournament, and to expect complete remorse or lucid pontification in the moments after the most humiliating loss of his young career is unfair.
All things considered, he handled the situation well, even if he was parroting Lynch's manner with the media.
"I don't think he was hiding," Martin said. "I think he was getting his emotions together, figuring out what he was going to say. I didn't tell him to go in there but I said, 'You don't need to come out until you're ready. But the reality is, Dax, if they don't get you today, they're gonna get you. So you might as well.'"
His teammates, pretty much all of them, had tear-soaked cheeks and either shirts or towels over their heads. Some were buried in their lockers, faces blocked off and body language trying to ward off potential interviewers.
Tarik Phillip talked through some tears. He didn't fault Miles Jr. for the promise, and doesn't regret him making it.
"I don't feel bad for him at all," Phillip said. "He's a young dude, with no experience. This is a young team, and we'll all be here again next year. ... It wasn't a mistake at all."
Huggins, when he spoke at the dais, agreed. When asked if Miles Jr.'s "36-1" comment played any part in Kentucky's beatdown, the gruff veteran replied, "You know, honestly, I think that's a bunch of BS. I think once you throw the ball up, you play. I'm kind of happy he had some confidence. I'm kind of happy he wasn't hiding under a chair somewhere. They were just way better than we were."
The nation saw what happens when you give the most talented team in the sport even more reason to find motivation. A sniff of blood to rip apart your guts and then use the skin as a scarf.
Did the comments motivate the Wildcats?
After the game, UK freshman point guard Tyler Ulis said the team was thrilled with the victory, that it wanted to win by 50. Devin Booker tweeted as big a burn and pun in three words, to the glee of millions of UK fans worldwide.
Calipari didn't endorse his players' public glee with the degrading defeat.
“That didn't come from me, because that's not the way I coach," he said. "I don't want my team playing angry. I don't want them to be mean, nasty, hateful. It's, 'Play with joy and love of the game and love for each other.' That wins every time. The other stuff turns to fear.”
Between now and Saturday night's tip, no Irish players will be proclaiming anything remotely resembling a guaranteed victory. This win was as much a slam to WVU as it was a warning to Notre Dame. And it was a reminder to the country that UK's best is so much better than everyone else's best. Thursday night saw Wildcats at their purest distillation of domination. Just throttling a hapless WVU team that was dodging tree trunks hurtling down at them from the mountain cliffs above.
At one point, it got this out of hand. You kidding with that shot, Andrew Harrison?
The game was done by the first TV timeout. Maybe that's putting it too kindly.
It took more than eight minutes for WVU to score its first field goal of the second half, then it went on a blinding 4-0 run ... that cut Kentucky's margin to 54-23. WVU couldn't even cling to the little victories. This was Kentucky's night, up, down, left, right.
This win gets John Calipari to 14-1 in his least 15 NCAA Tournament games. And guarantees one thing: Kentucky looks a great now as it has at any point this season.