NCAA Elite Eight: Kentucky survives, advances to Final Four

Posted at 2:21 PM, Mar 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-29 14:21:27-04

Kentucky’s record might be perfect but head coach John Calipari likes to say his team isn’t.

He uses the word “undefeated.”

The 38-0 Wildcats barely stayed undefeated Saturday, edging third-seeded Notre Dame 68-66 in the Midwest region final at Cleveland on two Andrew Harrison free throws with six seconds remaining.

The Wildcats advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the fourth time in five seasons and are the first men’s Division I team to have a 38-0 record.

Kentucky freshman Karl-Anthony Towns was almost unstoppable in the post, with a season-high 25 points, 17 in the second half.

Fellow freshman Devin Booker chipped in 10 points for the Wildcats.

Zach Auguste, a junior forward, sparked the Fighting Irish with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Wisconsin goes deep to down Arizona

In the first game of the day, top-seeded Wisconsin coasted past second-seeded Arizona 85-78 in the West region final at Los Angeles.

The game was the first in more than 40 years to pit two teams who played each other in the Elite Eight the prior year. Wisconsin won the 2014 game in overtime.

A few minutes in, Saturday’s contest didn’t look like such a great basketball game. Wisconsin had the faster slow start to grab an early 10-2. But Arizona turned up the defense and took a 33-30 lead at halftime.

After intermission, it was a three-point party for the Badgers, who made 10 of 12 from deep as they pulled away for the seven-point victory.

Frank Kaminsky led the Badgers with 29 points while sizzling Sam Dekker continued his hot scoring with 27 points.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley topped the Wildcats with 17 points each.

After the game, Kaminsky showed he is a better basketball player than dancer.

The Kentucky-Wisconsin game next Saturday will be another rematch for the Badgers. In 2014, after downing Arizona in the Elite Eight, Wisconsin lost to Kentucky in a national semifinal 74-73.

With one more victory in the Final Four, Kentucky would match the Connecticut’s women’s program, which twice has finished with a 39-0 record.

With two more wins, Kentucky will become the first men’s team to go undefeated since Indiana went 32-0 and won the national championship in 1976.

The other two Final Four teams will be determined Sunday. Louisville and Michigan State play in the East Region final, and Duke and Gonzaga meet in the South Region title game.