N. Dame holds off Ky. in NIT

The Baltimore Sun

By the time Jodie Meeks got going for Kentucky, Notre Dame was all but packing its bags for New York.

The Irish were up by 15 points before Meeks made his second basket, on just his fourth shot with 12:18 left in the game, and the Irish survived a 17-5 run late by the visiting Wildcats to end a 10-game losing streak to Kentucky with a 77-67 victory Wednesday night to advance to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

"They did a great job of guarding him," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey threw a variety of defenders at Meeks, who finished with 21 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

Kentucky, meanwhile, had no answer for Luke Harangody, who had 30 points and 11 rebounds.

"He was pretty much scoring all over the court," said Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson, who guarded Harangody.

Kentucky (22-14) cut the lead to 67-62 on a slam-dunk by Perry Stevenson with 2:42 left. But the Irish (21-14) were 8-for-8 from the free-throw line over the final 1:29 to end the game on a 10-5 run.

More NIT: : San Diego State blew a 13-point second-half lead, then rallied to beat visiting Saint Mary's, 70-66, to reach the semifinals. Tim Shelton posted up for the go-ahead basket with 48.6 seconds left and Richie Williams made three free throws in the final 26 seconds as the Aztecs (26-9) held off the Gaels (28-7). This is the deepest that San Diego State has advanced in a national postseason tournament in its Division I history. Students rushed the court after the buzzer.

College Basketball Invitational semifinals: : Stefon Jackson scored 34 and Texas-El Paso went on a 10-0 run after host Richmond (20-16) closed within two in the second half to prevail, 81-69, and reach the final. UTEP (22-12), in its third season under Tony Barbee, will play Oregon State or Stanford, which played in the later semifinal, in a best-of-three series beginning Monday.

Off the court

Graduation rates: : The NCAA women's tournament has been played in the shadow of the men's event for years. When it comes to academics, however, the women own the spotlight. Four teams in the women's round of 16 had perfect graduation rates, while five of the remaining men's teams graduated 50 percent or fewer of their players, according to a study released Wednesday. The report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found that top-seeded Connecticut, Ohio State, Stanford and Vanderbilt gave diplomas to 100 percent of their women's players during a six-year period. Seven other teams still alive had higher graduation success rates than the two top men's teams. "The fact that there were so many women's teams that were higher than the top men's team was a little startling," said Richard Lapchick, who heads the institute at the University of Central Florida. The report accompanies an annual study that examined Graduation Success Rates and the Academic Progress Rates for men's and women's NCAA tournament teams. The graduation rates were reviewed over four freshman classes beginning in 1998-99; the APR uses four-year data beginning in 2003-04. Leading the men's programs were Duke and Villanova, each graduating 89 percent of its players. The lowest graduation rate was at Arizona (20).

Maryland women: : The top-seeded Terrapins (30-4) will face No. 4 seed Vanderbilt (26-8) in the Raleigh (N.C.) Regional semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Davidson men: : Stephen Curry, the nation's leading scorer, will meet with his father, former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, this weekend, then decide whether to stay for his senior season or enter the NBA draft. "I'm 50 percent in the middle," the 6-foot-3 guard said.

Alabama men: : Virginia Commonwealth coach Anthony Grant toured the Crimson Tide campus and met with university officials in a second round of talks about potentially replacing Mark Gottfried.

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