Kentucky tops Louisville in Midwest Regional

INDIANAPOLIS — 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
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 4 1/2 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.