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Saturday, March 26, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Kentucky 62, Ohio State 60

By Kieran Darcy

Recap | Box score | Photos

NEWARK, N.J. -- A quick take on Kentucky's 62-60 win over Ohio State on Friday night at the Prudential Center:

WHAT IT MEANS: Kentucky (28-8), the No. 4 seed, stunned No. 1 seed Ohio State (34-3) in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament's East Regional. Brandon Knight's jumper in the final seconds was the difference.

It's the sixth time these two teams have faced each other in the Big Dance -- and the first time the Wildcats have won. It's Kentucky's second consecutive Elite Eight appearance, as it attempts to make its first Final Four since 1998 (when it won its last national title). The Buckeyes -- the top seed in the entire tournament -- are eliminated in the Sweet 16 after winning their first two games in this tourney by a combined 61 points.

THE FINAL SEQUENCE: In as tight a second half as you'll ever see, Kentucky led Ohio State 60-57 in the final minute when Jon Diebler drained a clutch trey from beyond the top of the key with 21.2 seconds remaining to tie it up. But then Knight, Kentucky's freshman point guard -- who also hit a winner in the Wildcats' NCAA opener against Princeton -- nailed a jumper from the wing with 5.4 seconds remaining for another game-winner. Ohio State's last-gasp jumper by William Buford was off the mark.

THE SKINNY: It was a seesaw first half, with Ohio State jumping out to a 16-9 lead. Kentucky returned the favor and led by as many as three, 23-20. Overall there were five ties and seven lead changes in the first 20 minutes -- and at the end of it all, we were all tied up at 30. Josh Harrellson led the Wildcats with 12 points and seven rebounds before intermission; Jared Sullinger had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Buckeyes. Ohio State shot just 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) in the first half, but was 12-for-15 from the foul line. Kentucky had five first-half blocked shots.

In the second half, Ohio State's biggest lead was four, 36-32 less than two minutes in. Kentucky's biggest lead was three. And the Cats won it by two, on Knight's second "one shining moment" of this tournament. Overall there were 19 lead changes and 11 ties in this game.

STAR WATCH: Kentucky's trio of top-notch freshmen struggled, but the team's lone senior, Harrellson (17 points, 10 rebounds) and reserve junior DeAndre Liggins (15 points) came up huge for John Calipari. Ohio State super-frosh Sullinger finished his freshman season with 21 points and 16 rebounds.

NUMBER CRUNCH: Ohio State came in No. 2 in the country in field-goal shooting (49.9 percent) -- but the Buckeyes shot just 32.8 percent on Friday night (19-for-58), thanks in large part to Kentucky's swarming defense. Also, Kentucky -- third in the nation in blocked shots (6.3 per game) -- had 11 against Ohio State.

WHAT'S NEXT: Kentucky will play No. 2 seed North Carolina on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. ET, with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

Ohio State flies home to Columbus -- its season is over.