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Kentucky relies on Bam Adebayo in win over Wichita State

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kentucky and Wichita State tussled Sunday in a 65-62 win for the Wildcats, who now advance to the Sweet 16 in Memphis next week.

The Shockers kept it close. But they don't have a Bam Adebayo, who swatted Landry Shamet's last-second 3-point attempt and changed the game with his dominance in the paint.

Down the stretch, the Wildcats showcased the gap between a scrappy, blue-collar squad like Wichita State and a team with three potential first-round picks in this summer's NBA draft as they fed the freshman big man.

De'Aaron Fox connected on multiple fast-break dunks, and Malik Monk made clutch free throws after recording a game-saving block on Markis McDuffie.

But Adebayo (13 points, 10 rebounds) opened up the floor for his teammates after a tough first half for the Wildcats, who made just 33 percent of their shots before the break and 52 percent in the second half.

Throughout the week, Kentucky coach John Calipari had touted Adebayo's selflessness and willingness to defer to his teammates. He said Adebayo only jokingly complained once this season when he didn't get enough touches.

His 6-for-11 effort Sunday demonstrated his prospective impact for Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

The Wildcats fed Adebayo -- and he created his own offense with his rebounding -- and his aggressiveness changed the game on a night when Monk and Fox finished 8-for-23 combined.

Controversy had surrounded the matchup throughout the week. Wichita State's Darral Willis Jr. told a Lexington, Kentucky, news station that Kentucky was "nothing special." Isaiah Briscoe said he "didn't know anything about Wichita State" when he was asked about his second-round opponent before Sunday's matchup. And Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall had knocked the NCAA selection committee's seeding process multiple times.

In the end, both teams had their chances. But only Kentucky had a Bam. Adebayo proved he's more than a sidekick to his team's flashy backcourt standouts.

He can be a star for the Wildcats the rest of the way.