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Friday, March 26, 2010
Final: Kentucky 62, Cornell 45

By Andy Katz

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Well, that wasn't what was expected.

If Kentucky was going to win this game, which it did 62-45, I was convinced it would be in a rout, not a game played at an Ivy League speed and score from one of Cornell's rivals like Princeton.

Kentucky's defense in the first half was as impressive as I've seen this season -- maybe even more so than their dismantling of Wake Forest in the second round.

The Wildcats completely took Cornell out of what it wanted to run in the first half after an initial 10-2 lead by the Big Red. The 30-6 run to close out the half was something to observe.

But the Big Red never quit. Kentucky's offense went stagnant and Cornell found away to claw back into the game to get within six on a Louis Dale 3-pointer. But as much as Cornell was on the verge of making it a historic upset, Kentucky still kept the Big Red at arm's length. There was still too much DeMarcus Cousins and Cornell could not keep him out of the lane.

Kentucky survived the Cornell surge to move onto the Elite Eight. But that's hardly unexpected for a Wildcat team formed under John Calipari. The goal has always been a trip back to the Final Four for the first time since 1998.

Kentucky will now face West Virginia Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in the Elite Eight. It will end up being the only No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the bracket in an upset-filled tournament. Neither teams played a complete game but both found a way to win Thursday. They were the most consistent, the most talented and the two teams that seemed destined to meet here in Syracuse.

Let's see if the game can live up to the advance billing.