(8) Kentucky 74

(27-10, 12-6 SEC)

(4) Louisville 69

(31-6, 15-3 American)

    Coverage: CBS

    10:00 PM ET, March 28, 2014

    Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

    1 2 T
    #8UK 31 4374
    #4LOU 34 3569

    Top Performers

    Kentucky: J. Randle 15 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    Louisville: M. Harrell 15 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast

    Kentucky uses late surge to boot defending champ Louisville

    Associated Press

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Nobody will accuse these Kentucky kids of being the fastest learners. Not this season. And certainly not during most of Friday night's game against Louisville.

    But once again, late in the game with everything on the line, they figured things out just in time.

    Aaron Harrison hit a 3-pointer for the go-ahead score with 39 seconds left and Julius Randle made a pair of clutch free throws to lift the fantastic freshmen of Kentucky to a 74-69 victory over their in-state rivals.

    The eighth-seeded Wildcats (27-10) led for a grand total of 65 seconds in this Midwest Regional semifinal. They'll play Michigan on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.

    "I told them before the game, you'll get punched in the mouth and you're going to taste blood," coach John Calipari said. "You can fight or you can brace yourself for the next shot. They fought."

    Fourth-seeded and defending champion Louisville ends its season at 31-6.

    Few expected a run this deep for the Wildcats as this season played out and their five freshman starters struggled to play a team game. But they've been learning slowly. They trailed by 13 midway through the first half, then by seven with 4 1/2 minutes left.

    Suddenly, things kicked in.

    Actually, it was a sophomore, Alex Poythress, who scored five points and blocked a Russ Smith layup attempt during a 7-0 run that tied the game at 66 with 2:11 left.

    "Alex Poythress won the game for us," Calipari said. "We were begging him the whole game to start playing, and he played at the right time."

    From there, it was the Kentucky freshmen who showed all the poise against the defending national champs, who were led by seniors Smith (23 points) and Luke Hancock (19).

    Harrison took a pass from Randle and spotted up in the corner for the go-ahead shot. Both finished with 15 points, as did yet another freshman starter, Dakari Johnson.

    On the next possession, Louisville's Wayne Blackshear got fouled. The 71 percent career free throw shooter missed the first. Randle came down and made two free throws to put Kentucky ahead by three. Harrison guarded Smith and forced him to miss a tough 3-pointer on the next possession -- "His first stop of the game," Calipari quipped.

    A few seconds later, the Wildcats were chest bumping and Calipari was pumping his fists to a loud stadium that was about two-thirds Kentucky blue, one-third Cardinals red.

    Kentucky now has knocked off previously undefeated Wichita State and defending national champion Louisville, and has a meeting with last year's runner-up, Michigan, coming next. Earlier, the Wolverines beat Tennessee 73-71.

    The latest win for Kentucky was the ultimate lesson in patience for a team that, for so long, had trouble showing any. The Wildcats were touted on T-shirts as the team that would go 40-0 and win the national title, then all head off to the NBA.

    Two out of three is still possible.

    "They finally have surrendered and lost themselves in the team," Calipari said. "It's just taken a long time."

    Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who fell to 11-1 in Sweet 16 games, produced a matchup zone that the Wildcats had trouble working through.

    The Cards took the double-digit lead early, yet went to halftime up only three despite holding Kentucky to 33 percent from the floor.

    The difference in Pitino's mind: Louisville went 13-for-23 from the free throw line while Kentucky went 22-for-27. And the Wildcats had a 37-29 rebounding edge, which also led to eight more second-chance points.

    "I told them we probably beat ourselves a little bit down the stretch," Pitino said. "But how can any of us complain with the run we've been on?"

    Louisville's string of Final Fours will end at two, and there will be a new national champion.

    Making this win even more impressive for the Wildcats: They played almost the entire game without Willie Cauley-Stein, an NBA-caliber forward who hurt his left ankle early.

    "It's not a good ankle injury, let me just put it that way," Calipari said.

    Another NBA prospect, James Young, fouled out with 5:32 left.

    That left it to Harrison, his twin brother, Andrew (14 points), and Randle, a lottery pick in waiting who was a monster inside. He had 12 rebounds to go with the 15 points. He has had a double-double in all three tournament games.

    Calipari makes no apologies for recruiting the best talent and taking his chances they'll leave before they really set up shop at Kentucky. That strategy helped him bring the eighth national title back home two years ago. Now, Kentucky is a win away from the program's 16th trip to the Final Four.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 74 69
    FG Made-Attempted 24-55 (.436) 26-53 (.491)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-14 (.286) 4-15 (.267)
    FT Made-Attempted 22-27 (.815) 13-23 (.565)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 24 (0/0)


    » Mar 28, 2014 UK 74, @LOU 69Recap

    Research Notes

    Kentucky has won its last 2 games because it has executed down the stretch in "clutch time." In the last 5 minutes with the score within 5 points, Kentucky outscored Louisville and Wichita State by 12 points. During the regular season, Kentucky was outscored by 13 points in those situations. In their last 2 games, the Wildcats are shooting 56 percent and haven't committed a single turnover in "clutch time."
    Julius Randle has 37 rebounds through three tournament games, one shy of the record by a freshman.
    Julius Randle joins Greg Oden as the only freshmen with 15 points and 12 rebounds against a defending champ.
    Julius Randle is the third freshman in NCAA Tournament history with double-doubles in each of his first three games.
    For the second straight game, Kentucky's freshmen combined for 68 points. The previous contest was a win over a Wichita State team that boasted the longest single-season win streak in Division I history; this time it came over defending champ Louisville.
    Already Louisville's leading scorer in NCAA Tournament games, Russ Smith also passed Pervis Ellison's mark for 20-point tournament games.

    ESPN Stats & Information