Kentucky Ousts No. 1 Ohio State in NCAAs; Kansas, North Carolina, VCU Win

Freshman Brandon Knight hit a 15-foot jump shot with 5.4 seconds remaining as the University of Kentucky knocked off overall top seed Ohio State University 62-60 in the regional semifinals of the men’s college basketball tournament.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats advanced to an East Region final matchup tomorrow with the University of North Carolina, which dominated Marquette University 81-63 to win a record 105th National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament game. Kentucky is second with 104 victories.

The University of Kansas is the last remaining of four regional No. 1 seeds following the Jayhawks’ 77-57 win against the University of Richmond in a Southwest Region semifinal. Kansas tomorrow will take on 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University, which topped No. 10 seed Florida State University 72-71 in overtime.

It was the second game-winning shot in the tournament for Kentucky’s Knight, who scored on a layup with two seconds remaining in an opening-round win against Princeton. Before both baskets, Kentucky coach John Calipari opted to forgo a timeout to set a play.

“I have all the faith in the world in Brandon,” Calipari said at a news conference. “Against Princeton he couldn’t make a shot, but he made the layup. Today he struggled shooting, but he made that last one. If we are in another game and it is late, that coach will know we’re playing through Brandon.”

Knight had nine points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field. With the game-winner, he broke John Wall’s freshman scoring record at Kentucky, bringing his season total to 618 points.

Knight’s Game-Winner

After Kentucky (28-8) junior guard DeAndre Liggins banked in a shot from the left side of the lane to give the Wildcats a 60-57 advantage with 36 seconds remaining, Ohio State’s Jon Diebler drained a 23-foot 3-pointer to even the score with 25 seconds left. That led to Knight’s game- winner. A 3-point attempt in the final seconds by the Buckeyes’ William Buford missed the mark.

Diebler had 16 points for the Buckeyes (34-3), who were held to 33 percent shooting for the game.

“They did a good job of challenging shots, obviously, with their length,” Diebler said in a news conference. “We are going against length all year and those are shots that we make, and tonight they weren’t going in.”

In the first of today’s two regional final matchups, the second-seeded University of Florida (29-7) will take on No. 8 seed Butler University (26-9) in New Orleans to determine the Southeast Region winner. Butler is trying to return to the national championship game for the second straight season. The Bulldogs came within a narrowly missed last-second half-court shot of beating the Duke Blue Devils for last year’s title.

West Region Final

In the second game, a West Region matchup in Anaheim, California, No. 3 seed University of Connecticut (29-9) meets fifth-seeded University of Arizona (30-7).

In a game at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, that was reminiscent of a heavyweight title fight, the Wildcats’ win last night included 12 second-half lead changes.

Liggins scored 15 points with 6 rebounds, while Josh Harrellson led Kentucky with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ohio State’s freshman forward Jared Sullinger posted game highs of 21 points and 16 rebounds, charging up Ohio State fans with a couple of powerful second-half dunks, shaking his fists and screaming, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” each time.

It wasn’t enough for Ohio State, which lost for the first time in six NCAA tournament games against Kentucky.

North Carolina Wins

Junior forward Tyler Zeller had a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds and freshman forward Harrison Barnes added 20 points and 9 rebounds for North Carolina.

The Tar Heels used a 19-0 first-half run that spanned just more than 10 minutes to take a 27-10 advantage against Marquette. The Golden Eagles went 0-for-14 shooting during the stretch, turning the ball over five times.

“We did a great job of forcing them out of their offense, and then just not letting them ever take a comfortable shot,” Zeller, a 7-foot junior forward, said at a news conference.

For the half, Marquette shot 20 percent from the field in on 6-of-30 shooting, failed to record an assist and turned the ball over 12 times as compared to three for the Tar Heels.

“I thought in the first half we were pitiful,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “I knew they were really good, and I thought they played even better than good.”

Marquette’s Loss

North Carolina led by as many as 32 points in the second half, while the closest Marquette could get was a 14-point deficit.

Kansas also used a strong first half -- which included a 21-2 run -- to dominate its Southwest Region semifinal win against Richmond at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“They missed shots, which we benefited from, but for the most part, we took away easy points and layups,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Kansas’ Brady Morningstar scored 18 points and Marcus Morris had 13 to lead the Jayhawks, while Justin Harper had 22 points and 9 rebounds to pace the 12th-seeded Spiders.

In the game that followed, Florida State (23-11) scored seven straight points after trailing 36-31 at halftime to take the lead. Virginia Commonwealth (27-11) responded, going up as much as eight points before the Seminoles rallied as Chris Singleton hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute left to tie the game at 65-65, forcing overtime.

Burgess Leads Rams

Bradford Burgess, who scored 26 points in the win, gave the Rams a 68-67 lead on a 3-pointer, and he also hit the winning layup with 6 seconds left in overtime. Singleton missed a jump shot at the buzzer.

“I had been messing up,” Burgess, who had four turnovers and went 9-of-15 from the field, said in a televised courtside interview after the game. “I said if I could get the ball I wanted to win it for the team.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Mason Levinson at the Prudential Center at mlevinson@bloomberg.net; Nancy Kercheval in Washington at nkercheval@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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