De'Aaron Fox and Kentucky are headed to the Elite Eight after topping UCLA 86-75 in the Sweet 16 Friday night. The Wildcats’ matchup with the Bruins was hotly-anticipated because of the amount of NBA talent that was going to be on the floor. Even more than that, the point guard matchup between freshmen phenoms Fox and Lonzo Ball promised to be an incredible, back and forth battle. Unfortunately it wasn’t, as Fox was miles better than Ball all night long.
Fox finished the game with 39 points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals and just one turnover. He hit 13-of-20 shots from the field and made 13-of-15 free throws. He drove at will, was in the lane all night and disrupted UCLA’s flow on offense with his tenacious defensive work.
Meanwhile, Ball finished with just 10 points and three rebounds. He was 4-of-10 from the field and 1-of-6 from 3-point range. He did dish out eight assists, but also turned the ball over four times.
While Ball and UCLA were struggling to deal with Fox’s length and athleticism when they had the ball, Kentucky’s point guard got whatever he wanted offensively. His 39 points were a career-high and the most by any player in the tournament this season. It was also the most points by a Kentucky player in the tournament since Tayshaun Prince had 36 back in 2002.
From top to bottom, Fox owned Lonzo Ball Friday night. He was just flat-out the superior player on both ends of the floor. He led his team better, he passed better, he shot better and he controlled the game better. It was no contest.
Ball is a hell of a player, and will almost certainly be one of the first three picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. But on Friday night De’Aaron Fox took him to school for 40 minutes. Perhaps fittingly, it was the last lesson Ball will learn in college.