Indiana's comeback year ends with loss to Kentucky

By Paul Newberry

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 24 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Indiana's Cody Zeller (40) attempts to shoot as Kentucky's Anthony Davis (23) defends during the second half of an NCAA tournament South Regional semifinal college basketball game Friday, March 23, 2012, in Atlanta.

David J. Phillip, Associated Press

ATLANTA — Indiana walked off the court, disappointed but heads held high.

Even in defeat, the storied program that fell so far certainly lived up to the logo worn by so many of its red-clad fans.

"We're Back."

Christian Watford's 27 points weren't nearly enough to slow Kentucky, which advanced to the South Regional final with a 102-90 victory over the gritty Hoosiers on Friday night.

Indiana (27-9) tried to run and gun with the top-seeded Wildcats (35-2), but they were simply too big, too quick, too good — even with freshman star Anthony Davis having a rather quiet night.

"I thought we shot the ball pretty well," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "We just couldn't stop them from shooting it that well."

The Hoosers had beaten Kentucky 73-72 on Watford's buzzer-beating 3-pointer a couple of weeks before Christmas, but the comeback season with a loss to their border rival. Still, there was nothing to ashamed of, coming up two victories shy of the Final Four after winning a total of 28 games the previous three seasons.

Clearly, Indiana has regained its usual place among the college basketball bluebloods under Crean.

"There's a lot of good things that have happened," Crean said. "This team has a lot of tremendous character, there's no doubt about that."

But Big Blue is moving on.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 24 points, Doron Lamb 21 and three of their teammates — not Davis, mind you — were in double figures, sending Kentucky into a regional final for the third year in a row.

They'll face Baylor on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.

"I feel like we did a pretty good job," said Kentucky's Darius Miller, who added 19 points. "So did Indiana. It was a very intense game. It was up and down for the most part. It was a fun game to be a part of, the way that both teams played."

Davis wasn't his usual dominating self after picking up two early fouls. He finished with nine points and 12 rebounds. So it was left to another of Kentucky's super freshmen to take the starring role. Kidd-Gilchrist had a double-double, also snatching 10 rebounds.

"In the huddles during timeouts, Michael was the guy firing us up," teammate Twany Beckham said. "It showed with his play."

Marquis Teague chipped in with 14 points and Terrence Jones 12.

"We scored 90 points," Crean said. "They're a really good team. They've got a lot of guys. They've got a guy coming off the bench (Miller) who's going to be a first-round draft pick."

Indiana's freshman star, Cody Zeller, had 20 points, while Victor Oladipo provided a spark in the backcourt with 15 before fouling out. Kidd-Gilchrist just kept pounding the ball inside, drawing foul after foul on the Hoosiers, then knocking down the free throws. He went 10-for-10 at the line.

He wasn't the only one making free throws. Kentucky was a dead-eye 35-of-37 at the line, compared to 13-of-17 for the Hoosiers.

"It's not any big deal," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "We're just taking our time with free throws."

Jones, who had only four points in the December meeting, signaled this would be a different night by scoring Kentucky's first five points in the rematch. That set the tone for a shootout, both teams running and gunning in an exhilarating display that kept fans in both blue and red on their feet most of the time.

There certainly wasn't much to fear on the inside in the opening half, not with the two big men, Davis and Zeller, both spending much of the period on the bench, each saddled with two fouls.

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