Wildcats win rematch, bounce Bruins from bracket
FLORIDA 84, WISCONSIN 83, OT
memphis, tenn.» De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points as the Kentucky Wildcats beat UCLA 86-75 on Friday night in a showdown between two of college basketball’s goliaths for a berth in the South Regional final.
The only No. 2 seed to advance to the Elite Eight, the Wildcats (32-5) won their 14th consecutive game. Now the NCAA’s winningest program will play another of basketball’s titans Sunday in top-seeded North Carolina with a trip to yet another Final Four on the line.
The third-seeded Bruins (31-5) still have the most national titles (11). Yet they leave their third Sweet 16 under coach Steve Alford short of the Elite Eight.
Fans lustily booed Kentucky coach John Calipari in his first game in Memphis since leaving in April 2009 for the Wildcats. Calipari’s latest crop of talented freshmen put Kentucky into a regional final for the sixth time in seven years.
Malik Monk scored 21 points for Kentucky, and Dominique Hawkins added 11.
This was the fourth time these powerhouses have met in the past three seasons, and UCLA upset then-No. 1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena with a 97-92 victory Dec. 3.
Fox didn’t play his best in that game, taking 20 shots to get 20 points. That wasn’t a problem with Kentucky fans making the FedEx Forum as comfortable as Lexington. Fox scored the first eight points for Kentucky on Friday and was all over the court forcing turnovers or diving to the floor to force a jump ball.
He outplayed UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball, who finished with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Ball handed out eight assists but also had four turnovers.
TJ Leaf and Isaac Hamilton each had 17 points for UCLA.
Kentucky shut down the nation’s top scoring team, holding
new york» Chris Chiozza went end to end and made a 3pointer at the buzzer to give Florida an 84-83 victory against Wisconsin on Friday night in the first overtime game of this NCAA Tournament.
Nigel Hayes had given the Badgers (27-10) a 2-point lead with 4 seconds left on two free throws.
With no timeouts left, the Gators inbounded to Chiozza and the point guard stopped right before the arc and dropped in the winner for Florida (27-8).
“Just trying to get down the court as fast as I can to get a good look,” Chiozza told TBS of the final play. “They had good defense and slowed me down, and that’s why I couldn’t get to the rim. I saw the clock and that I had a second left. So I knew I had another dribble and then I just took what I had.”
Wisconsin’s Zak Showalter forced overtime with a leaning 3pointer off one leg with 2.1 seconds left in regulation as the Badgers wiped out a 12-point deficit in the last 4:15.
The fourth-seeded Gators will play South Carolina on Sunday in an all-Southeastern Conference regional final at Madison Square Garden.
Florida is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2014, and for the first time with second-year coach Mike White — the man who replaced Billy Donovan in Gainesville.
“I’m still kind of at a loss,” White told TBS. “What an unbelievable shot.”
Kentucky frosh De’Aaron Fox drives to the basket against UCLA’s Bryce Alford on Friday. Fox scored 39 points. Andy Lyons, Getty Images
South Carolina players celebrate their 70-50 victory over Baylor in an East Regional semifinal game Friday. Julio Cortez, The Associated Press