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MIDWEST REGIONAL ROUNDUP

Top-Seeded Kentucky Rolls Along

March 22, 2003|From Associated Press

When Kentucky got to the locker room after another dominating performance, a message awaited them on the board: "5 More."

The top-seeded Wildcats extended their winning streak to 24, routing tourney newcomer Indiana Purdue Indianapolis, 95-64, Friday in the first round of the Midwest Regional at Nashville.

Clearly, Kentucky (30-3) won't be satisfied unless the streak lasts another five games -- the amount required to win the school's eighth national championship.

"There's no celebrating," said Gerald Fitch, who equaled his career high with 25 points. "It's all business right now."

The Wildcats haven't lost since Dec. 28, and they weren't about to slip against IUPUI. Kentucky shot 62% (40 of 65) from the field, and will play Utah in the second round Sunday.

Memo to Utah: Don't talk so much about beating the Wildcats.

The Jaguars (20-14) and their animated coach, Ron Hunter, went on and on about becoming the first No. 16 seed to knock off a top seed. Hunter showed his players the movie "Hoosiers," compared the matchup to David and Goliath and called the Jaguars the best No. 16 seed in at least a decade.

"It definitely bothered us," Fitch said. "They made it seem like we were some typical team and they were going to make history."

Fitch, who has overcome several run-ins with Coach Tubby Smith, set a new career high by making five of seven from three-point range. But there was plenty to go around; 10 players scored at least a basket.

"We were able to get some penetration," Marquis Estill said. "Everyone was finding guys open at the basket."

IUPUI made only 37% from the field. Josh Murray led the Jaguars with 15 points and Odell Bradley's airball on the final shot of the game was indicative of the way things went.

"Kentucky is the truth," Murray said. "I take my hat and headband off to them."

Pittsburgh 87, Wagner 61 -- Fifteenth-seeded Wagner stayed close for most of the first half before the second-seeded Panthers (27-4) started the second half with an 18-3 surge that all but finished the Seahawks (21-11) with nearly 14 minutes to play at Boston.

Donatas Zavackas had 16 points, Carl Krauser 12, Jaron Brown 11 and Brandin Knight 10 for Pittsburgh, which advanced against Alabama Sunday..

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