Advertisement

Originally published March 25, 2010 at 11:29p.m., updated March 26, 2010 at 11:38a.m.

Wall, top-seeded Kentucky outscrap Cornell 62-45

Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins dunks as Cornell's Jeff Foote (1) watches during the first half of a semifinal in the East Regional of the NCAA college basketball tournament Thursday, March 25, 2010, in Syracuse, N.Y.

Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins dunks as Cornell's Jeff Foote (1) watches during the first half of a semifinal in the East Regional of the NCAA college basketball tournament Thursday, March 25, 2010, in Syracuse, N.Y.

Advertisement

Kentucky vs. Cornell

Box Score

— John Wall saw red in nearly every corner he looked. Cornell's loudest and largest pep rally was held at the Carrier Dome and turned the regional semifinal into an instant road game for Kentucky.

Big Blue crashed the party, and avoided the latest big upset by the Big Red.

Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson stopped Cornell's captivating NCAA tournament run, giving the top-seeded Wildcats a 62-45 win Thursday night in the East Regional semifinals.

"It got our attention," Wall said. "We came out here and saw all that red."

With much of the crowd — and the country — pulling for an upset by the 12th-seeded Ivy Leaguers, Cornell bolted to a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes.

But Kentucky overcame the early deficit with a swarming defense, spoiling all the fun at Cornell's loudest and largest pep rally.

"I think we did a great job landing the first punch," Cornell center Jeff Foote said. "They're a very talented team. Their skill and talent is going to show eventually."

John Calipari has the Wildcats (35-2) in the regional final in his first season, erasing much of the sting of the program's decade-long slide from the top.

The climb back is nearly complete. Kentucky moved within one win of its first Final Four since winning the national championship in 1998 and will play second-seeded West Virginia on Saturday.

In an NCAA tournament gone wild with upsets, it's 1 vs. 2 with a trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis at stake.

Calipari said his young Wildcats must do better.

"I thought the second half, we kind of backed up and tried to just get out of the gym," Calipari said. "You can't play that way in the NCAA tournament, but that's OK. We learned a great lesson. We gave them a chance to maybe clip us."

All the fan adulation and media hype shifted to Cornell this week after brainy Big Red (29-5) stunned the field with an improbable run to the round of 16. This was no Revenge of the Nerds — they proved they could they play with the big boys.

The nation's top 3-shooting team continuously misfired from beyond the arc and Cornell couldn't catch up against a Kentucky lineup that could stage a reunion at the NBA's 2012 Rookie Challenge.

After storming to two wins by a combined 59 points in the first two rounds, the Wildcats got all they could handle. Cornell pounced to that early lead, then sliced a 17-point deficit to six late in the second half.

Louis Dale hit a 3 that made it 40-34 and Ryan Wittman nailed another to keep it at 46-37 with 3:47 left.

But Eric Bledsoe hit a short jumper with one tick left on the 35-second shot clock to push Kentucky's lead to 12. The Wildcats finally put away Cornell for good from the free-throw line.

Cousins scored 16 points and Patterson had nine points and 12 rebounds for Kentucky.

Dale led Cornell with 17 points. The Big Red shot just 5-for-21 on 3s after shooting 43 percent this season.

"Our shots weren't falling," Foote said. "Usually Ryan makes those shots. He had a tough day."

Ashley Judd had her usual great seat behind Kentucky's bench to support the Wildcats. She was easy to spot — she was the Kentucky fan.

OK, so there were a few patches of Big Blue in the Carrier Dome. But this may as well have been a Cornell home game.

Cornell's campus in Ithaca, N.Y., is only about 55 miles away from the Carrier Dome and the Big Red faithful turned out in full force.

Kentucky was booed out of the building when it hit the court only moments after West Virginia beat Washington 69-56. The crowd roared and rattled the roof when Cornell sprinted out for warmups as chants of "Let's go Red!" echoed throughout the dome. Some fans behind the basket boldly chanted "Overrated!" as the Wildcats warmed up.

For about 5 minutes, it looked like they might be right. Foote backed down Cousins for the first basket and Wittman and Dale each hit 3s for a stunning 10-2 lead that left the Wildcats red-faced.

Calipari refused to call a timeout, preferring to let the Wildcats play their way out of a jam. Smart move. The Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to take a lead they'd never surrender and hush the Cornell fans.

Kentucky is back with a vengeance and trying to win the regional final for the first time since '98. The Wildcats lost Elite Eight games in 1999, 2003 and 2005.

It was quite a fun run for Cornell. Sports information director Jeremy Hartigan said he turned down hundreds of interview requests in the last week after never saying no in the last few years. The Big Red were parodied on the satirical Web site "The Onion" and acted about as loose as any team in the tournament.

The fans chanted "Thank you, seniors!" in the waning minutes in appreciation of all Foote, Wittman and Dale have done to make Cornell the three-time defending Ivy League champs.

"We're not doing this for personal stuff. We're a team out there," Wittman said. "We're going out there and having fun playing with our best friends."ment.

The fans chanted "Thank you, seniors!" in appreciation of all Foote, Wittman and Dale have done to make Cornell the three-time defending Ivy League champs.

Comments

KY_Cats1 11 years, 8 months ago

Once again, a dominating performance by UK. NCAA tourney championship number eight is an absolute lock at this point. That banner is going to look so sweet hanging in Rupp Arena! No one in this field of 65 should even be allowed on the same court with the Cats. Hands down the best individual talent, depth, team chemistry, coach, and fans in the country.

Cannot be stopped...will not be stopped.

I guess even more than the comparison to Tennessee (where UK went 2-1 while Kansas went 0-1), a comparison of Cornell games shows clearly how much better UK was this season than KU. The Cats dominated the (Not So) Big Red on a "neutral" court only an hour or so from Cornell's campus and filled 80% with fans for them. What did KU do against Cornell? Well, KU trailed in the last minute and struggled to pull out only a five point victory...at HOME. Are you serious? And KU was supposedly the top team in the country this year? Clearly the only top thing about Kansas was the level of smoke and mirrors used to cover up all of the problems. Let the Cats provide you with a lesson on how to jump on lower-level competition, beat them down, and keep them down.

See all of you Kansas fans in Indy next weekend. The Blue Mist faithful are looking forward to that championship Monday night showdown to finally determine who is the best between UK and KU...oh wait, that's right. UK was the only one good enough to even make the Sweet 16. Maybe it will be Kansas State who decides to take the court that night against us. (At least they have the correct mascot.) But in the end it will not matter. All are lambs being led to the UK lion slaughter that is this year's tourney.

Go Big Blue!!!

UK Wildcats YOUR 2009-’10 NCAA Tourney Champs First College Basketball Program to 2,000 Wins

kufreak1512 11 years, 8 months ago

I wouldn't say it is a complete lock. What UK is doing is exactly what UNC did in 08. Dominate teams early then later in the tourney hit a wall. UK will run into a team that has been tested and won't be able to bring them down.

Mike Kendall 11 years, 8 months ago

God, I hate Kentucky! UHHHHHH---please somebody take Kentucky out of the Tournament! Spare me, KY_Cats 1--you are full of yourself. You remind me of Garfield---fat, lazy and cocky! Don't choke on the fishbone, if you make it to the Final 4!

GoBigBlue 11 years, 8 months ago

What is up with all this KU-UK hate?

Majority of UK fans would root for KU over Duke, UNC, UCLA and any other power-school. I like following KU and visiting sites like this one because the fan-base reminds me of the UK-fan base in that we both have the dominant sport in our state (pro or college), most of the fans are middle-class blue-collar folks that are not fair-weather fans. That cannot be said about any other school in my opinion.

I hope I am wrong, but it seems like most KU fans would love to see UK crash and burn.

jchief40 11 years, 8 months ago

BigBlue - we want to see sleazy Calipari crash and burn. He is a scumbag. Two schools - two final fours vacated. UK has a history of corruption. Duke and UNC are at least more likeable in comparison to a Calipari-led UK program.

Fruity22 11 years, 8 months ago

Rest assured gobigblue, KU fans' dislike for UK has nothing to do with "blue mist" members such as KYCats. He/She has shown themselve to be a total class act. I would argue that there aren't many blue-collar folks watching games in Allen Fieldhouse. Good luck the rest of the way and KU fans along with the rest of the nation have nothing but respect and appreciation for your program and have total believe that you are beyond reproach. Calipari, what can you say ethics, honesty, and integrity are a few words that come to mind. He deserves to have a final 4 on his resume.

Fruity22 11 years, 8 months ago

How in the wide world of World Wide Wes does Calipari not have a final 4 yet?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.