Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, and Baylor advance to the Great Eight

Kentucky avenges Indiana loss, Tar Heels OT Ohio without Marshall, Kansas survives late NC State run, Baylor turns back Xavier

The Great Eight ws completed on Friday with all four higher seeds moving on, three just barely. Tournament top-seed Kentucky was the only “easy” winner avenging their only regular season loss during the year, 102-90 over Indiana. The Hoosiers had beat the Wildcats on a long buzzer-beating three back on December 10th, but Friday, UK was determined to not let it happen again. Kentucky won the game from the foul line hittiing 35-37 from the charity stripe and on the offensive glass where the Cats ripped down 14 boards. Micheal Kidd-Gilchrest led kentucky with 24 points. All five Indiana starters hit double-digits led by Christian Watford’s 27 and Cody Zeller’s 20.

Kentucky faces Baylor in the South Regional final. The Bears turned back a determined Xavier team 75-70 behind 20 points and 15 rebounds from Quincy Acy and 16 points and 10 assists from Pierre Jackson. The Bears led wire-to-wire after jumping out to a 24-8 lead early but were unable to completely shake the pesky Musketeers who were able to close to within three with 11 seconds left. Tu Holloway had 22 and Kenny Frease 18 for the X-Men.

In the Midwest Region in St Louis, both top seeds were life and death to move on. North Carolina needed overtime to eliminate the tournament’s last Cinderella, beating the No.13 seeded Ohio Bobcats 73-65 in extra time. Tyler Zeller had 20 points and 23 rebounds to lead four Heels in double-digits. Walter Offutt had 26 points for the Bobcats but his missed foul shot with 26 seconds would have given Ohio the lead. UNC subsequently missed the final shot sending things to overtime. Offutt went 0-6 in OT which North Carolina won 10-2. The Heels played without field general Kendall Marshall who had surgery on his wrist Monday but little used backup Stillman White had six assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes of play.

Roy Williams will meet his old school Kansas in the Midwest Region final. The Jayhawks survived a furious lat rally from North Carolina State to win 60-57. The upstart Wolf Pack broke out to a 13-3 lead early and led 33-32 at the half but No.2 Kansas opened the second half on a 12-5 run to grab a lead they would never relinquish. NC State cut the lead to 58-57 with 1:21 to play but their was no other scoring until an Elijah Johnson layup with 14 seconds left. The Wolfpack turned the ball over and misfired on their final two possessions.

The East and West finals will be decided in Boston and Phoenix as Ohio State takes on Syracuse in a battle of one vs two seeds. Billy Donovan and Rick Pitino will meet in a student/teacher matchup as Florida meets Louisville. Donovan was the PG on Pitino’s 1989 Final Four Providence Friar team. Donovan later cut his teeth as an assistant with Pitino before taking his first job at Marshall. The mentor is 6-0 in head-to-head meetings. Florida is a one-point favorite in the 4:35 PM EST start, the total is 131 1/2. In the East at 7:05 PM EST, Ohio State is -3 over Syracuse, the total 135 1/2.

Love scores 51 in double-OT loss to the Thunder, Knicks streak stopped at five games

In a busy Friday night in “The Association”, Kevin Love’s 51 points and 14 rebounds was not enough in Minnesota’s 149-140 double-OT loss at Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook had 45/4/6 and Kevin Durant 40 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder. James Harden showed why he’s the NBA’s best sixth man by chipping in with 25/6/6 for the winners. JJ Barea has a 25/10/14 triple-double in a losing effort for the Wolves. The Knicks five-game win streak under new coach Mike Woodson came to an end with a 96-79 loss at Toronto. DeMar Rozen went off for 30 for the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani added 21.

Phoenix climbed back to .500 with a 113-111 victory over the Pacers in Indy. Orlando cruised to a 93-80 over Cleveland. Milwaukee climbed to within a half-game of the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the East with a 112-92 win over the Bobcats at Charlottle. Josh Smith had 30 and 12 in the Hawks 94-83 win over the Nets. Miami disptched the Pistons 88-73 behind 14/9 from Dwayne Wade. The 76ers used a 37-17 third quarter to turn back the Celtics 99-86. It was San Antonio 104-87 over Dallas, the Lakers 103-96 over Portland, and the suddenly red-hot Jazz 121-102 over Denver rounding out the late show.

Tiger Woods leads at Bay Hill

Tiger Wood just loves Bay Hill and is a six-time winner of the Invitational. It looked like the old Tiger on Friday as woods shot a seven-under 65 to grab a share of the lead in “Arnie’s” tournament. Tiger is joined by Charlie Wie at 10-under with Jason Dufner and Graeme McDowell one shot back. Other notables include Justin Rose at -6 and Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh, Webb Simpson, and Zach Johson all at minus five. Phil Mickelson is T35 ten shit back at even par 144. David Toms, Jonathon Bird, and Rickey Barnes were among those who did not make the cut.

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