Kentucky Too Much for UCLA

UCLA forward Gyorgy Goloman reacts to play against Kentucky in the second half of an NCAA college basketball tournament South Regional semifinal game Friday, March 24, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. If you are, you know we're playing through De'Aaron Fox.

Containing Ball at one end while dominating him at the other, Fox scored a career-high 36 points, and running mate Malik Monk exploded for 14 of his 21 points after intermission. He says UCLA simply lost to a good team.

Fox dove for a loose ball in the second half when Ball didn't get on the floor. If this was the only game you watched for the entire season you'd wholeheartedly believe that De'Aaron Fox was the nation's best point guard.

Fox has led Kentucky in scoring in the team's six postseason games and has established a new career high in two of those contests.

But the biggest difference in Kentucky's 97-92 defeat in December against UCLA and the rematch was on the defensive end.

That's a stunning thing to type about a John Calipari-coached Kentucky point guard, but it's true, relatively speaking.

UCLA freshman Lonzo Ball has played his final college game.

"I appreciate the fans", said Ball. (They'd gone 15-17 last season.) But this was March and this was win or else, and these McDonald's All-Americans don't sign with Calipari to exit in the Sweet 16. "He's really, really good", UCLA coach Steve Alford said of Fox.

Q. What was it about Fox tonight that was so hard for you guys to stop, and if you could do it again, how do you think you would try to play him differently?

Joel Berry II scored 26 points and Justin Jackson had 24 as No. 1 seed North Carolina moved to the Elite Eight with a 92-80 win over Butler.

No. 2 seed Kentucky pulled away from No. 3 UCLA in the second half Friday, winning 86-75 to set up a showdown with top-seeded North Carolina on Sunday with a spot in the Final Four at stake.

2 seed in the South, and comes in with a 31-5 record.

The Bruins were playing in their third Sweet 16 in four years.

Fans lustily booed Calipari in his first game in Memphis since leaving in April 2009 for the Wildcats.

With Fox leading the way with a career-high 39 points in an 86-75 win, second-seeded United Kingdom (32-5) soared past No. 3 UCLA (31-5) and into a sixth Elite Eight appearance in John Calipari's eight seasons and a second straight battle of the bluebloods.

Fox didn't play his best in that game, taking 20 shots to get 20 points.

Fox finished with 20 points — though he needed 20 shots to get there — and nine assists with two turnovers in 34 minutes.

Andrew Chrabascz led the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (25-9) with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Kelan Martin finished with 16 points for Butler, which struggled shooting early and did not recover. In his final game as a member of the Bruins, he scored 10 points and dished out 8 assists, while commiting 4 turnovers. Isaac Hamilton and T.J. Leaf each scored 17 points for the Bruins. Although the Bruins canned 52.7 percent of their field-goal tries, including a scalding 63 percent after halftime, they were held 15 points under their season average as the Wildcats contained their transition game.

"So proud of him", Calipari said of Fox. "That's why we won".

  • Julie Sanders