Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

March 29, 2014

Michigan, Kentucky survive in Midwest Regional

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — John Calipari finally figured out how to get his players' attention. He banned television.

The Wildcats and their fans aren't complaining now.

Julius Randle had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Dakari Johnson added 15 points and forced Russ Smith into missing a potential game-tying 3-pointer and eighth-seeded Kentucky advanced to Sunday's Midwest Regional championship game with a 74-69 victory over rival Louisville.

"They're playing for each other," Calipari said after beating last year's national champs for the second time this season. "They have finally surrendered and lost themselves in the team. It's just taken us a long time."

The transformation couldn't have come at a better time.

After a wild ride through the regular season, Kentucky (27-10) is finally rolling along — perhaps just in time to get back to the Final Four.

All the eight-time national champs have to do now is beat second-seeded Michigan (28-8) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Wolverines barely advanced with a 73-71 victory over Tennessee, a game in which the Volunteers rallied from a 15-point deficit and had a chance to win it in the final 10 seconds — only to turn the ball over on a charging call.

The Wildcats seemed just as unlikely a choice to be playing on the last weekend of March.

Following a loss at Florida, on March 8, Kentucky had lost three of four. Since then, they've won five of six and the group Calipari watched Friday night hardly resembled the team he had watched the first 25 games.

One potential problem for Kentucky this weekend is an ankle injury to forward Willie Cauley-Stein, who left the game with about 13 minutes to go in the first half. After the game, Calipari described it as "not a good ankle injury."

But they didn't need him Friday night.

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