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Kentucky tops Louisville 74-69 in Midwest Regional

 

Kentucky's Alex Poythress and Aaron Harrison, right, celebrate after an NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal college basketball tournament game against the Louisville Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Indianapolis. Kentucky won 74-69. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Kentucky’s Alex Poythress and Aaron Harrison, right, celebrate after an NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal college basketball tournament game against the Louisville Saturday, March 29, 2014, in Indianapolis. Kentucky won 74-69. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — OK, so maybe they’re not the quickest learners. Still, the kids at Kentucky figured out Louisville 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 freshman 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.

Few expected a run this deep as this season played out and Kentucky’s five freshmen starters struggled to play a team game. But they’ve been learning slowly. Trailing by seven with 4½ minutes left, things kicked in again.

Actually, it was a sophomore, Alex Poythress, who scored five points in a 7-0 run that tied the game at 66 with 2:11 left. Then, it was the Kentucky freshmen who showed all the poise against the defending national champs, led by seniors Russ Smith (23 points) and Luke Hancock (19).

Harrison took a pass from Julius 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. Smith missed a tough look at a 3-pointer on the next possession and a few seconds later, the Wildcats were chest bumping and coach John Calipari was pumping his fists to a loud stadium full of blue.

This was the ultimate lesson in patience for a team that, for so long, had trouble showing any.

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 led by as many as 13 in the first half, yet went to halftime only up three despite holding Kentucky to 33 percent from the floor.

Making this win even more impressive for the Wildcats: They played almost the entire game without Willie Cauley-Stein, an NBA-caliber forward who sprained his left ankle early. And James Young, who also might go pro, 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’s had a double-double in all three tournament games.

Now, who’s to say the Wildcats can’t go all the way?

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. Then, Louisville won it last year. Now, Kentucky is a win away from the program’s 16th trip to the Final Four.

KENTUCKY 74, LOUISVILLE 69

KENTUCKY (27-10): Young 3-8 3-4 9, Aa. Harrison 3-13 6-6 15, An. Harrison 4-11 5-6 14, Randle 5-11 5-6 15, Johnson 7-10 1-2 15, Lee 0-0 0-0 0, Polson 0-0 0-0 0, Cauley-Stein 0-0 0-0 0, Poythress 2-2 2-3 6, Hawkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-55 22-27 74.

LOUISVILLE (31-6): Smith 9-20 4-10 23, Jones 2-5 2-2 6, Hancock 6-9 4-4 19, Harrell 7-9 1-3 15, Van Treese 0-0 0-0 0, Rozier 0-3 0-0 0, Gill 0-0 0-0 0, Mathiang 1-3 1-2 3, Blackshear 1-4 1-2 3, Agau 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 13-23 69.

Halftime_Louisville 34-31. 3-Point Goals_Kentucky 4-14 (Aa. Harrison 3-7, An. Harrison 1-4, Randle 0-1, Young 0-2), Louisville 4-15 (Hancock 3-5, Smith 1-7, Jones 0-1, Blackshear 0-2). Fouled Out_Harrell, Van Treese, Young. Rebounds_Kentucky 37 (Randle 12), Louisville 29 (Harrell 8). Assists_Kentucky 8 (An. Harrison 7), Louisville 11 (Smith 3). Total Fouls_Kentucky 19, Louisville 24. A_41,072.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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16 comments

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  1. Andy

    Somewhere Pat Forde is crying?

  2. Larry T Clemons

    Poor first half shooting, No Big Willie, Young Out, Alex invisible the first 35 minutes of the Game…Poor three point Shooting…..And, ” KENTUCKY WINS “…defense, fight, courage, heart, and ” The Will To Win.” Nice work DJ ! How can You Not Just Love this Team…BBN, your part of something very special, enjoy this ! Forget all the things you think you know and enjoy what Your Seeing with Your Own Two Eyes ! KENTUCKY BEATS LOUISVILLE, for a Trip to the ELITE 8 !

  3. Larry Pup

    This was as thrilling a win as I have ever seen in the big rivalry for a UK team that had to come from behind and battle every second until the very end. They beat a very good Louisville team. UK never quit, and the Harrison twins are making statements with their play right now, they are tough kids. Alex was huge down the stretch, and Dakari was a beast. Hancock did a lot of damage against UK. He is a great player. It was so good to beat that bunch from Louisville and this win was so special. Kokamo Joe, how about this Elite 8 team, the Kentucky Wildcats? That was your measuring stick for success as I recall. You happy? They still have work to do, but they are still dancing. GO CATS!!!!

  4. Mike

    Charles Barkley you are da man….You willed us to the victory. How many of you thought we would lose when we were down by 7 toward the end? I must raise my hand. These guys had the fight and will to pull this out even though we were very porous at the defensive end most of the game. If we can get Poythress to fill in for Stein and give us more than 5 minutes of inspired play we can at least get to the final 4. Oh I just forget…we don’t defend the 3 well and that plays to Michigan’s strength.

    1. Larry Pup

      Mike you didn’t just think we would lose tonight based on your statement above, but you quit on this team a long time ago because of what you said all season about many of these young players, and most of us on VV’s who didn’t quit on them know it. UK’s porous defense? It was in many ways, you are right about that, but bottom line is UK scored more points than UL, so UL’s was more porous when it counted most. Lesson, don’t ever quit on a UK team or their Coach like you and Barry did.

    2. Larry T Clemons

      Mike, sounds like You were hoping they lose, well, Your comments are consistent…Consistently anti-Ky….That’s why we Call You, ” Hoosier Mike ! ” I I love This TEAM ! ” Always Have ” And You called me a Kool-aide drinker…..Actually I’m living in a Blue Mist and it’s a Beautiful Thing !

  5. Barry

    Wow! As bad as we played, we still won. This game will have everyone scratching their heads, except for rah rah Larry. He has no problem with winning a game that we should have lost. It was a great win, but the overall product of play was pretty ugly with the exception of Dakari and Alex. They and Julius shoot over 50% again as a group and only take 40% of the team’s shots…what is wrong with that picture? The Twins and Young go 10 for 32 and give up layups on the other end and we still won. Anytime we can be Louisville twice in the same season is a glorious thing but we went back to the one on one play that at times looked like the LSU game in Baton Rouge. I guess the Twins and Young never passed the ball on their AAU teams so it should be no surprise that when pressured, they don’t pass now. Kyle Wiltjer is probably wondering why its ok for the Twins & Young to constantly get beat on D, but he got run out of town. Now with Wiley hurt, the lack of bench development could become an issue. Jarod, Dominique, and Marcus were total non factors offensively. Jon never left the bench except for halftime. I know he would play better defense than what we saw from the 3 Amigos and I bet he would make a few post passes when they would do some good. It’s great that we won and I can hear all of the Larry rah rahs screaming that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but the rest of the country saw what I saw and are still trying to figure out how Louisville lost this game.

    1. Larry Pup

      Same old Barry even in a great hard fought UK win. Thanks Coach Barry for that analysis. The only problem is UK won and you ain’t happy. Hey Barry, take a hike. We don’t need you.

    2. Larry T Clemons

      Your an idiot, ” LOOK AT THE SECOND HALF STATS !!! ” Kentucky Defense, combined with Shooting from the floor and at the strip is what Won The Game….( Barry Your Just Dumb, bring up all that, side show BS, look at what happened on the FLOOR ! As far as RAH, RAH……Trust Me, ALL OF BBN are RAH< RAH<RAH…Shish BOOM Bah, " GOOOOOO CATS !

  6. joe

    This is how we won Barry. Composure! And we outscored the other team. All I know is we are beating teams that we aren’t suppose to beat. Thats the beauty of the tournament. Ask Dayton how they are winning.

  7. Larry T Clemons

    As far as defending ???? Remember Folks, Luke Hancock was MVP of the FINAL FOUR and Russ Smith is ” Russdiculous ” for a reason. These Two Players are Ballers, they gettin theirs, no matter who they Play ! But As We Saw…You live by Russ, You also die by Russ…Just don’t let anyone con you, that Our Cats didn’t Play D. Second Half Defense, Won The Game.

  8. Mike

    Pup & LTC…..You guys just don’t give up do you? You are both so arrogant and pompous and don’t have tolerance for any opinion that differs from yours. WTH do you guys think you are to tell anyone when they are on or off the bandwagon. I have told both of you many times that when they play well I will praise and when they don’t I will critique. I happen to agree with a lot that Barry says and put more credence in his posts than either of yours. I would love to hear either of your commentary if UK had continued to play as bad the full game as they did at the beginning.

    1. Larry Pup

      Same old Mike. Same old worn out commentary from the first of the season, and even continues now in UK’s glory. You still know more than anybody else, even UK’s coaches. If there has been any arrogance shown here on VV’s, it has come from know it all Mike and “Coach Barry” as you have continually blasted these players, and their Coach just about every game. I have doubted your’s and “Coach Barry’s” status from the start, and I am fully convinced now that you are not truly a UK fan down deep in the heart, just an impostor of some sort who likes to try to impress everybody with how much you both think you know. Mike, you just got it stuck in your craw that some of us hung tough with this team from day 1, supported it, had patience with these players as freshmen, had confidence in their Coach, while you have not. We are just calling it like we have read it from your posts’. You are now getting called out on it because you two were the loudest critics, sometimes even in victory. Hurts don’t it. You two are probably, down deep, pulling for Michigan so you can echo “I told You So.” That would not surprise me one bit. But hey!!!! It’s a free country.

    2. Larry T Clemons

      Well good Mike, You and Barry can Put Your two cents worth of Basketball Knowledge together and get a double wide in Hoosierland…..” See Ya, wouldn’t want to be Ya ! “

  9. Mike

    Pup…..talk about same ole worn out commentary, you hold the title on that. Still nice to see you devote so much time and space to your commentary when you know you have been scored upon. Sorry Pup, but we don’t all live in your la la or rah rah land and like you, we will continue to call them as we see them. You have got to be retired for all the time and sunshine you spread on this cite.

    1. Larry Pup

      Hey “Higher Level Mike” do you prefer that handle or “Hoosier Mike?” I will honor which ever you prefer if you still have the nerve to post on VV’s, and since Mike can be misleading to many of us since there are a lot of fine Mikes in the world. Of course I can usually tell it is “Higher Level Mike” by your sarcastic and demeaning remarks about players, coaches, and other UK fans. I got your number chump. Pulling for the Wolverines are you? Thanks for your kind remarks, they make my day. But is that the best you got? Just doing my job as a faithful UK fan to rattle your chain since you have run your mouth about this team forever, and continue to do so. I never quit on my team as a kid, and will never do so now no matter how bad it gets. That comes easy for you though don’t it being the fair weather boy that you are ? Are you really as smart and all knowing about basketball as you imply?

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