INDIANAPOLIS— The young Wildcats are growing up at the right time. Anything’s possible now.
Julius Randle had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Kentucky defeated defending national champion and bitter Bluegrass State rival Louisville, 74-69, in a Midwest Regional semifinal from Indianapolis. Eighth-seeded Kentucky (27-10) will face second-seeded Michigan in the Regional Final on Sunday.
The Wildcats finally took their first lead since it was 2-0 when Alex Poythress split a pair of foul shots with 1:27 left to put them up 67-66. Russ Smith made a jumper at the other end, but Aaron Harrison swished a wide- open left corner triple on Kentucky’s next trip down the floor to give it a 70-68 edge with 40 ticks to play.
Wayne Blackshear drew a foul on Randle with 14 seconds remaining, but made just 1-of-2 to keep Kentucky in front. Randle then hit two foul shots to make it 72-69 and Smith’s potentially game-tying 3-pointer from the left wing clanked off the front rim. Harrison then sunk a pair of foul shots to seal the outcome.
Harrison scored 15 points, while twin brother Andrew tallied 14 points, seven assists and five boards. Dakari Johnson added 15 points and six rebounds in the triumph.
Michigan 73, Tennessee 71
INDIANAPOLIS— After breaking the team tournament record with 14 3-pointers against Texas in the third round, Michigan was on pace to challenge that mark again. Until a cold spell and a Tennessee onslaught nearly spoiled another trip to the Elite Eight.
And when Jordan McRae’s heave from halfcourt soared over the backboard, Michigan was finally able to exhale. Jordan Morgan had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Nik Stauskas added 14 and the Wolverines held off Tennessee in a Midwest Regional semifinal.
Second-seeded Michigan (28-8) finished 11-of-20 from deep following a 14-of-28 performance against Texas. Michigan, which made 7-of-9 3-point attempts in the first half, built an advantage as large as 15 over the final 20 minutes.
The 11th-seeded Volunteers (24-13) used an 11-2 run to get back in it and capitalized on four straight Michigan turnovers later to make it interesting in the closing seconds. After Josh Richardson banked in a floater with 24.6 seconds on the clock, the Vols trapped Glenn Robinson III along the right endline and his pass bounced past Caris LeVert near halfcourt.
Connecticut 81, Iowa State 76
NEW YORK — DeAndre Daniels scored 27 points on 10- of-15 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, as Connecticut weathered a late charge from Iowa State and held on for an 81-76 East Regional win at Madison Square Garden.
Star guard Shabazz Napier had 19 points, five assists and five rebounds, helping the seventh-seeded Huskies (29-8) reach the East Regional final. Dustin Hogue tied an Iowa State NCAA Tournament record with 34 points. Melvin Ejim, the Big 12 Player of the Year, struggled for the third-seeded Cyclones (28-8), finishing with only seven points while missing 10 of his 13 shots.
Michigan State 61, Virginia 59
NEW YORK — Branden Dawson had 24 points, Adreian Payne scored 16 and Michigan State fought through Virginia’s tenacious defense to advance to the Elite Eight with a 61-59 win over the Cavaliers in the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.
Dawson added 10 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Spartans (29-8). Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon scored 17 points apiece for top-seeded Virginia (30-7).
Arizona 70, San Diego State 64
ANAHEIM —Nick Johnson scored 15 of Arizona’s final 16 points and the Wildcats advanced to the West Regional Final following a 70-64 triumph over San Diego State on Thursday night.
Johnson hit all 10 of his foul shots down the stretch to send top-seeded Arizona (33-4) to its first Elite Eight since 2011. The Wildcats will face second-seeded Wisconsin in the West Regional Final today.
Aaron Gordon had 15 points and seven rebounds, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 15 points and five boards for the Wildcats.
Xavier Thames netted 25 points to lead fourth-seeded San Diego State (31-5), which has never reached the Elite Eight. Dwayne Polee provided 13 points and Josh Davis pulled down 14 boards in defeat.
Dayton 82, Stanford 72
MEMPHIS — Dayton has not danced this long in 30 years. Jordan Sibert led the way with 18 points and the upstart Flyers thoroughly handled Stanford, 82-72, in a Sweet 16 battle of double-digit seeds from the South Region.
Eleven different players scored in an efficiently balanced attack for the 11th-seeded Flyers (26-10), who made 48.3 percent of their shots and assisted on 19 of their 28 made baskets. Kendall Pollard scored 12 points off the bench, Devin Oliver chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds and Matt Kavanaugh added 10 points for Dayton, which last reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament in 1984, when it lost to Georgetown in the regional final. They’ll face another perennial power today in top-seeded Florida.
Florida 79, UCLA 68
MEMPHIS — Another Florida-UCLA meeting in the NCAA Tournament went the way of the Gators. Michael Frazier II made five 3- pointers and scored a team-high 19 points and top-seeded Florida ousted the Bruins for the fourth time in the past eight years with a tense 79-68 victory in a familiar Sweet 16 showdown.
UCLA (28-9) was within one with 10 minutes to go before SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin stepped up and scored eight of his 13 points in the final six-plus minutes to help Florida pull away for its 29th consecutive win. Casey Prather added 12 points and Dorian Finney-Smith netted 10 in the win.
Wisconsin 69, Baylor 52
ANAHEIM — Wisconsin’s crisp ball movement and passing picked apart Baylor’s zone and the Badgers’ third Sweet 16 appearance in the last four years finally resulted in a win. Frank Kaminsky had 19 points and six blocks and Wisconsin routed Baylor, 69-52, in a West Region semifinal from Anaheim.
Second-seeded Wisconsin (29-7), which hasn’t reached a Regional Final since 2005, hasn’t made the Final Four during Ryan’s tenure since he took over the program in 2001.