By LARRY VAUGHT
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander impresses coaches when they watch him on film. Once they see him in person, he leaves them even more impressed.
Just ask Buffalo coach Nate Oats. He watched Gilgeous-Alexander score 27 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field and and 5-for-7 at the foul line. He had six rebounds, six assists and two steals while playing 39 minutes.
When Kentucky needed big plays the final nine minutes, he made them just like he did Thursday when UK outlasted Davidson.
“I told the guys, there’s a reason this guy is projected to be the lottery pick. He’s the best point guard we’ve seen all year,” Oats said. “He passes it, scores it, he’s 6-6, he’s long. They can usually take other guards out of it, but we started out trying to deny him the ball back, once he gave it up.
“But he’s so long at 6-6. He gets open. And then he gets it. I saw some teams try to trap him; he throws over the trap, they dunk it. He throws it, they dunk it. He finishes at the rim. We really didn’t have an answer for him tonight.
“That was a major problem for us tonight defensively. We were supposed to be loading up and tightening the gaps, then they start making some 3’s. We cut it to four or five — was it four — four or five, and then they hit back-to-back 3’s, if I remember right.
“That kind of killed us right there. And then they got some dunks at crucial times. To me, Alexander makes them go. ”
Here’s what Gilgeous-Alexander did against Buffalo:
— He scored 17 points in the first half, reaching double figures in the first 20 minutes for the fifth time in the last seven games. — It was the most points any Wildcat has scored in a first half this season.
— He’s scored 10 or more in nine first halves this season.
— He scored 20 or more points for the sixth time, and second time in the last three games. — He played a career-high 39 minutes for the fifth time. — Over the last nine games he’s averaging 19.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field, 55 percent from 3-point range.