TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Brandon Knight missed his first seven shots
and even found himself on the bench in the final minute against
His confidence could have been shaken. His ego could have been
bruised. His head could have been a mess.
Yeah, right. One of the most talented freshmen in the country
responded with the biggest shot of his career.
Knight, held scoreless for more than 39 minutes, made a driving
layup with 2 seconds remaining to lift No. 4 seed Kentucky to a
59-57 win over 13th-seeded Princeton in the second round of the
NCAA tournament Thursday.
The Tigers (25-7) shut Knight down much of the game, doubling
him on drives, putting a hand in his face on the perimeter and
contesting every shot.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who proclaimed, "You can't count
on freshmen" a day earlier, pulled him down the stretch. But with
the game on the line, Calipari put the ball in Knight's hands.
He delivered, and Big Blue advanced to face West Virginia in the
third round Saturday.
It was the biggest contribution Kentucky (26-8) got from its
trio of talented newcomers. Fellow freshman Terrence Jones finished
with 10 points, and Doron Lamb added seven. Knight had scored in
double figures in 32 of his previous 33 games.
With those guys off, upperclassmen carried the Wildcats most of
the way. Darius Miller scored 17 points, and lone senior Josh
Harrellson added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Deandre Liggins chipped in eight points, including a 3-pointer
with 5:38 remaining and a driving bank shot with a little more than
a minute to play.
But Princeton, the school known for scaring - and even beating -
some of college basketball's most storied programs in the NCAA
tournament, never gave up.
Kareem Maddox hit a turnaround jumper with 57.8 seconds
remaining, and Dan Mavraides sank a step-back jumper with 36.7
seconds left that tied the game.
Calipari called timeout and got Knight back into the game.
Knight dribbled the ball near midcourt, keeping an eye on the
dwindling clock, and started moving with about 10 seconds left. He
broke down one defender, juked another and floated a perfect shot
off the backboard.
His teammates erupted, as did the vocal Kentucky faithful who
filled the St. Pete Times Forum. The Tigers had one final chance,
but they failed to get off a shot before the buzzer.
Mavraides led Princeton with 14 points. Douglas Davis finished
with 13, all of them in the first half. Maddox chipped in 12
points, and Ian Hummer added 11.
Princeton missed 11 of 14 shots from 3-point range, but made up
the poor long-range shooting with backdoor cuts and precision
- Today’s game was the second meeting between the two schools in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky defeated the Tigers 72-59 in the first round of the 1977 tournament.
- Princeton’s appearance was its 24th all-time in the tournament, and the Tigers now have a 13-28 record. Kentucky’s appearance is its NCAA-best 51st, and the Wildcats now have an all-time record of 102-45.
- Today’s game was Kentucky’s sixth tournament contest in the Tampa area, with the Wildcats now having an overall record of 5-1 in those games. The Cats had previously played twice in St. Petersburg (1998, 1994) with a 3-1 mark and once in Tampa (1983), a win over Ohio University.
- Princeton had never previously played in the NCAA Tournament in Tampa or St. Petersburg.
- Attendance: The session attendance, which included the West Virginia-Clemson game, was 14,835.
- Kentucky improves to 26-8 on the year with the win, and Princeton’s season ends with a 25-7 mark.
- Kentucky’s largest lead of the first half was nine and Princeton didn’t lead until the 4:24 mark of the opening period. The Wildcats led by one, 34-33, at halftime.
- After Kentucky led by as many as five points in the second half, Princeton rallied to tie the score at 57 with 38 seconds to play.
- Brandon Knight’s only two points of the game came with two second remaining and gave Kentucky the 59-57 win.
- The game featured nine lead changes.
- Kentucky improves to 4-1 vs. Ivy League opponents in the NCAA Tournament with the win and has now won seven games in a row this season.
- Darius Miller led the Wildcats with 17 points, his 10th consecutive game scoring in double figures.
- Josh Harrellson posted four steals, which was a career high. He had notched three steals in three games this season.
- Brandon Knight, who led the Cats in scoring this season at 17.5 points per game, scored only two points, but the basket came with two seconds remaining and gave Kentucky the win.
- Princeton is now 0-3 vs. the Southeastern Conference in the NCAA Tournament and 0-2 vs. Kentucky.
- The Tigers were 19-0 this season when holding opponents to 64 points or less, but surrendered just 59 to the Wildcats and lost the game.
- Kareem Maddox tied a career high with three steals in the game.