Kentucky's class something IUPUI can't match, 95-64


Top-ranked Kentucky made quick work of Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis yesterday in the Midwest Regional, 95-64, as the basketball team with the richest tradition in this tournament overwhelmed one that didn't even exist as a college until 1969.

Ninety percent of the fans at the afternoon doubleheader at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tenn., were dressed in Wildcat blue. Kentucky, which notched its 12th straight first-round win, meets the Utah men tomorrow in the second round.

The 95 points were the most the Wildcats have scored in the NCAAs under sixth-year coach Tubby Smith, and the 31-point margin of victory was their largest in the tournament under the native of St. Mary's County in Southern Maryland. Kentucky had 16 assists in the first half, then shot 67.9 percent in the second en route to 61.5 percent for the game.

Junior guard Gerard Fitch made a career-high five three-pointers and matched his career scoring high with 25 points, and Kentucky (30-3), the top seed in the Midwest, extended the nation's longest winning streak to 24 games. IUPUI, which made 36.7 percent of its shots, somehow got within 56-43 with 13:44 left.

The 16th-seeded Jaguars of the Mid-Continent Conference finished 20-14.

Utah 60, Oregon 58: On paper, there aren't any upsets in the 8-9 game, but the Utes' emotional win in Nashville was as satisfying as any coach Rick Majerus has enjoyed.

Utah (25-7) had no selections to the All-Mountain West Conference first team. Britton Johnsen, its best frontcourt player, is sidelined by mononucleosis. Center Tim Frost and backup Cameron Koford fouled out and the Utes finished with three freshmen on the floor, but they still found a way to stop a team that was coming off its first Pac-10 Conference tournament championship.

Nick Jacobson, a 6-foot-4 junior who finished with a game-high 23 points, scored the winning points on a pair of free throws with 14.4 seconds left. James Davis then missed a pair of three-pointers for the Ducks (23-10). He got the ball because of strong defense on Pac-10 Player of the Year Luke Ridnour. The junior guard was held without a basket for 27 minutes and shot 3-for-13.

"Credit the players," Majerus said. "We had lineups we had never played. It may have looked, at times, that we were unorganized, and indeed we were, but we weren't unorganized relative to our effort."

Indiana 67, Alabama 62: For the first half of the season, no one was stronger than the Crimson Tide. It faded in the second half - just like last night in Boston.

Bracey Wright scored all 17 of his points after halftime, and Tom Coverdale had 23 points, eight assists and the game's final rebound to lead the Hoosiers (21-12) to victory.

Maurice Williams had 26 points for Alabama (17-12), which was the No. 1-ranked team in the country on New Year's Day before falling apart in the second half of the season.

Alabama had a similar collapse against the Hoosiers.

The Crimson Tide led by 11 at the half but trailed Indiana by six until Williams hit a three-pointer at the 1:00 mark to make it 65-62. Wright missed at the other end, but when Williams had a chance to tie it in the final seconds. His three-point attempt went wide.

Pittsburgh 87, Wagner 61: Dereck Whittenburg fell short again, and this time there was no one to bail him out.

The Panthers ruined Wagner's first NCAA tournament with a victory in Boston, and nothing Whittenburg told his players was enough - 20 years after he began one of the event's most memorable moments.

In the 1983 championship game, his long shot for North Carolina State didn't reach the rim, but Lorenzo Charles caught it and scored at the buzzer to beat Houston, 54-52.

Now it's second-seeded Pittsburgh (27-4) that hopes to reach the round of 16 for the second straight year, and perhaps go even further.

Wagner (22-11) stayed close for most of the first half, but Pittsburgh started the second half with an 18-3 surge.

As usual, the defense of the bigger, quicker Panthers was outstanding as they came up with 14 steals. They also had eight players who scored at least eight points each.

Wire services contributed to this article.

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