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NCAA Tournament Recap (Kansas-Kentucky)

Posted: Sun March 14, 1999 at 10:11 p.m. EST

NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Defending champion Kentucky did not want to end up like its fellow 1998 Final Four participants -- as spectators.

Senior Scott Padgett forced overtime with a 3-pointer and added seven of his career-high 29 points in the extra five minutes as the third-seeded Wildcats outlasted Kansas, 92-88, in the second round in the Midwest Region.

The first NCAA Tournament game between two of the most storied college basketball programs had everything a fan could ask. The teams battled back and forth throughout the second half like prize fighters, trading runs and huge shots from all over the court.

"We really appreciate the hard work of the players," Wildcats coach Tubby Smith said. "This was a game between the two winningest programs in the nation. I'm sure it was fun to watch and write about."

"I agree with what Tubby said, how it was a great game to watch and write about," said Jayhawks coach Roy Williams. "It was a great experience for them, but heartbreaking for us."

Wayne Turner continued his quest for a fourth straight Final Four appearance by adding 19 points and seven assists for the Wildcats (27-8), who will play 10th-seeded Miami of Ohio in the regional semifinals Friday at the TWA Dome in St. Louis.

"We had been there, we weren't ready to go home," said Padgett. "We feel like we've got something to defend here. We want to end our careers on a high note. We just willed ourselves to win."

Kentucky, which won the 1996 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments around an overtime loss in the 1997 championship game, was expecting to play Utah for the fourth straight year in the field of 64. However, last year's finalists were eliminated by Miami.

Fellow Final Four participants North Carolina and Stanford were eliminated in the first and second rounds, respectively, in the West Region in Seattle.

Ryan Robertson scored a career-high 31 points for Kansas (22-10), which made its second straight second-round exit. The Jayhawks, who played as a sixth seed for the first time since winning the NCAA Tournament title in 1988, lost to Kentucky for the second time this season and 12th straight time overall.

"I think, first of all, when you're by yourself, you might feel sorry for yourself," Williams said about his inability to reach the Final Four for the sixth straight year. "But Padgett made a heck of a play. I've been very, very fortunate ... 11 years with great kids. I'm stubborn enough to keep trying."

Padgett opened overtime with a 19-footer before Eric Chenowith hit two free throws with 3:37 to play, pulling Kansas even. Turner scored the next three points, but Jayhawks freshman Jeff Boschee re-tied the game at 84-84 ith a 3-pointer with 2:15 to play.

Padgett failed to convert a lob pass from Turner but Jamaal Magloire was there for the tip-in with 1:57 to play. Boschee missed a 3-pointer and Padgett sank two free throws to push the lead to four. After another miss by Boschee from beyond the arc, Padgett sank two more from the line with 46 seconds to go as Kentucky opened a 90-84 lead.

Robertson sank two free throws with less than 30 seconds left but the Jayhawks got no closer.

"They're mature," Smith said. "Wayne is remarkable and never has a bad practice. Scott is a real competitor. They're competitive to no end. They all have the will to win."

Turner's two free throws gave the Wildcats a 74-73 lead before Robertson and Boschee connected with 3-pointers as Kansas had the defending champs on the ropes with a 79-74 lead with 1:29 to play. Turner missed a driving layup, but Kentucky got the offensive rebound and the senior sank a pair to make it 79-76.

Boschee forced a 10-footer, giving Kentucky the chance to tie. Turner drove into the lane and missed a lay-in, but Magloire tipped the rebound out to Padgett, who pump-faked at the top of the key to get Kenny Gregory airbone. Padgett then stepped to his left and calmly sank the game-tying 3-pointer with 18 seconds to go.

"Wayne had drove and everybody collapsed to try and help out on him," said Padgett. "We got a huge rebound and someone kicked it out to me. Somebody ran at me. I just sort of gave them a shot fake. I knew we needed a 3. I took a dribble and stepped back behind the line. As soon as I shot it, I thought it was in. At least I hoped it was."

Kansas opted to attack and Robertson fired a pass to Gregory, who badly missed an eight-footer as time expired.

"I thought about (calling a timeout), but my assistants said no," said Williams. "We didn't want to play against their zone trap. Ryan tried to make a play. ... If we had it over again, I would tell him to shoot the ball."

Neither team led by more than eight points and the final 8:45 of regulation featured a test of wills, offensive execution and clutch shooting as the lead changed hands seven times and produced four ties.

The Wildcats shot 50 percent (30-of-60) from the field and hit 7-of-10 free throws in overtime. Senior Heshimu Evans had 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Kansas made 43 percent (27-of-63) from the field but hit just 2-of-11 in the extra five minutes. Boschee finished with 18 points and went 6-of-18 from 3-point range.

The Wildcats also posted a 63-45 victory over Kansas in the Great Eight Classic on December 1 and lead the all-time series, 19-3.

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP

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