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Kentucky and Marist win Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase

The Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase took place on Sunday, which saw four NCAA teams including the prestigious Kentucky and Michigan showcase their talents in the UK for the first time ever.

LONDON, ENGLAND — – The day was everything you could expect and more, showing the excitement, unpredictability, and sheer passion for the college game that Americans and British people shared in a moment over the weekend.

[Chet White/Kentucky 2022]

Throughout the day, the noise was deafening from the stands and that translated onto the court with both games being nail-bitingly close right to the final buzzer.

Maine vs Marist College 61-62

The first game of the day saw Marist College dig out a hard-fought 61-62 victory over the University of Maine, which exhibited the finest and most dominant display of the day from 6ft 11 center Patrick Gardener.

From the jump, Gardener used his size and physicality to dictate the game on both ends of the floor making clutch threes, huge blocks, and being a pest inside the paint.

The eventual Player of the match finished on an outstanding 27 points, shooting 4 from 7 from behind the arc. Also, he chipped in with 9 rebounds and 2 blocks to cap off his day.

Despite his excellence, the University of Maine fought to the very end, led by guards Kellan Tynes and Ja’Shonte Wright-Mcleish.

The pair put up 24 points between them, using their explosiveness and skill to get to the rim at any given time, and not letting the size of the Marist forwards deter them away.

The game went to the last possession of the game with 6 seconds left and 1 point down, both Mcleish and Tynes had shots to win but couldn’t execute them to the best of their ability due to the tough Marist defense.

However, with the masterful 5 of 6 shooting from Gardener to open the game for Marist, and key buckets and dominance inside the paint on both ends of the floor, Gardener, and Marist took the vital win in the opening game of the London Showcase.

Michigan vs Kentucky 69-73

The second game of the day saw the battle of two of America’s most prestigious college basketball programs Kentucky and Michigan go head-to-head in a thriller.

[Carol J Moir]

The eventual winners of the game in a fascinating finale were the Kentucky Wildcats who won 73-69 and were led by forwards Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe who both had 14 and 13 each.

The Wildcats’ free-flowing offense was the key to their success in the game with point guard Sahvir Wheeler being the orchestrator dishing out 7 assists in the game.

Guard Cason Wallace was a key receiver in Kentucky’s expansive game hitting crucial threes on either side of the half and down the stretch to finish on 14, making all four of his attempts from long range.

On the other hand, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson was the standout performer for the Wolverines, keeping them in the game with his ferocious physical display inside the paint which all of the Kentucky bigs struggled to match up against.

The Michigan center had a monstrous stat line finishing on 23 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, and shooting 45% from the field.

[Carol J Moir]

Despite his efforts and the fine 16 points from Jett Howard throughout the game, Kentucky managed to hold out for a historic win on British soil for the first time.

What was said?

After the games, the Coaches shared their thoughts on what it meant to be the first college teams to play in London.

Kentucky Coach John Calipari shared his thoughts on playing in London, specifically in the 02.

He said, ‘first of all, to be the first teams to play in the 02, come on this is like the venue in the world. Like everyone wants to play here and to be the first college to do it it’s amazing.’

University of Maine guard Gedi Juozapaitis is a London native, and he spoke on how special it was for him to return to his hometown.

The guard explained, ‘it did feel special having family, and friends here and seeing different people but at the end of the day, my mentality didn’t change.

Coach Chris Markwood of the University of Maine spoke on the joys of bringing his European players closer to home. He expressed, ‘As you know, the makeup of our roster is a lot of European guys, so first and foremost to bring these guys back over here to see their families like Gedi, we have guys from Hungary and Latvia whose families have been able to come so for that it’s been tremendous.’

Next time around For Marist and Maine are trips to the Manhattan Jaspers for Marist and a trip to Augusta for Maine. Following on, Kentucky takes on Yale and Michigan takes on Minnesota.

With the success of the opening London Hall of Fame Showcase games, will we see them more frequently in the future?

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