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Kentucky knocks off top-seeded Ohio State, 62-60

Brandon Knight hits a pull-up jumper with 5 seconds left to give the fourth-seeded Wildcats the win in an NCAA East Regional semifinal.

March 25, 2011|By Shannon Ryan
  • Kentucky forward Terrence Jones tries to drive past Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger in the first half of their game Friday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Kentucky forward Terrence Jones tries to drive past Ohio State forward… (Howard Smith / US Presswire )

NEWARK, N.J. -- Staring at the floor, Ohio State players trudged silently toward the locker room.

The path that was supposed to lead the top-seeded Buckeyes toward the Final Four in Houston instead ended Friday night at the Prudential Center with a 62-60 loss to No. 4 Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

"It hurts," senior guard Jon Diebler said. "We felt we could make a run at the championship. By no means were we overlooking this team."

Ohio State joined top seeds Pittsburgh and Duke in making early exits from the NCAA tournament, leaving Kansas as the lone remaining No. 1 seed.

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The Buckeyes' blazing shooters went cold, and they opened the door for another heroic ending by Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight.

Just as he did against Princeton in the tournament opener, Knight scored the game-winner at the end of a poor shooting night. His jump shot with 5.4 seconds remaining broke a 60-60 tie.

"I pulled up, and thank God it went in," said Knight, who was 2 of 9 before hitting the winner. He was scoreless against Princeton before his winning bank shot.

William Buford, who was 2 of 16 from the field, missed a 3-point attempt for the Buckeyes (34-3).

NCAA tournament interactive bracket

The Wildcats (28-8) will play No. 2 North Carolina on Sunday in the East Region final.

Big Ten freshman of the year Jared Sullinger, who led Ohio State with 21 points and 16 rebounds, told reporters in the locker room he's coming back for his sophomore season.

It's rare when the Wildcats are considered the underdog, but their young roster is maturing right on time. Ohio State coach Thad Matta didn't consider them as such.

"They're the best team we've played all year," he said.

Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins, a Chicago native, hit a floater with 36 seconds left for a 60-57 lead before Diebler hit a tying 3-pointer.

Matta said he tried unsuccessfully to call a timeout after Diebler's 3.

Sullinger was overshadowed at times, especially in the first half, by Kentucky's less well-known Josh Harrellson. The senior forward had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three of Kentucky's 11 blocked shots.

Ohio State finished its best season since playing for the national title in 2007.

"I've never had a team like this that bonded, their togetherness," Matta said. "It's March 26, and we have three bumps in the road."

The last bump took them off the road.

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