Not Easy


It wasn’t easy as it looked, but Kentucky and Kansas advanced to the Final Four last Sunday, while Ohio State and Louisville did the same on Saturday.

The Wildcats’ 82-70 beat down of Baylor in the South Regional Final was onesided, but the Jayhawks’ 80-67 win over North Carolina in the Midwest Regional wasn’t decided until the final four-plus minutes when Kansas went on a 12-0 spurt.

The Buckeyes’ 77-70 decision over Syracuse in the East Regional was nip-and-tuck, and the Cardinals’ 72-68 triumph against Florida in the West Regional was a classic.

Baylor (30-8) led 10-5 with 16:15 left, but Kentucky went on a 12-0 sprint and led by seven points with 12:21 left after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (team-best 19 points) scored a layup.

Baylor’s Quincy Acy (game-high 22 points) scored and drained a free throw slightly more than a minute later as the Bears trimmed the lead to 21-12.

Kentucky outscored Baylor 9-3 and went on a 12-7 run to close out the half and led 42-22.

The Wildcats (36-2) pushed their advantage to 58-39 with 11:54 left in the second half when Doron Lamb (14 points) converted a pair of free throws, but Baylor got within 63-50 with 7:59 left.

Kansas held a 68-67 lead with slightly more than four minutes showing, pulled ahead 71-67 with 2:34 remaining, and 74-67 after Tyshawn Taylor (game-best 22 points) made a layup and free throw with 1:59 left.

The Jayhawks (31-6) were in front 12-10 with 15:05 left in the first half, and Jeff Withey (15 points and eight rebounds) downed two free throws that tied it at 23-23 with 11:40 left.

It was knotted at 31-31 as 7:24 remained, but Kansas went on a 9-2 blitz to make it a seven-point lead and 3:38 left. However, the Tar Heels (32-6) put together a 14-7 run and tied it at 47-47 at the half.

Thomas Robinson (18 points with nine boards) and Taylor were key members in the second half as the Jayhawks carved out a 58-53 lead with 14:14 left, and 68-64 lead with 6:32 showing.

The Buckeyes (31-7) prevailed in a fight-like battle with the Orange (34-3) as each tallied 29 points at the half before Ohio State moved in front 38-33 with 17:32 left, and 45-36 with 13:51 remaining.

It became 50-44 with 11:25 left, before Syracuse got within 52-50 less than four minutes later.

Ohio State outscored Syracuse 10-8 over the next 5:31 for a 62-58 cushion, and outscored the Orange 15-12 to end the contest.

It was another tight skirmish between the Cardinals and Gators with each trying to find their groove.

Louisville (30-9) was in front 8-7 with 14:33 left, but Florida (26-11) pulled ahead 17-15 as 10:01 remained.

The Gators made eight of 11 three-pointers in the opening half, and led 25-21 when Erik Murphy (co-team high 14 points with eight caroms) nailed a trey with 6:27 left.

Florida moved ahead 33-27 with 3:45 showing, and pulled in front 41-33 at the intermission.

Florida continued to set the pace in the second half and led 47-40 with 15:59 left, and 54-46 when Patric Young (11 points and six rebounds) dunked with 12:22 on the clock.

The Gators missed all nine three-pointers in the second half, which was their undoing.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for, and is a columnist for You may e-mail him at

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