Morris leads Kentucky over ‘Nova
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Randolph Morris scored 19 points and grabbed 11
rebounds as Kentucky held off Villanova, 67-58, in the first round of the West
Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Jodie Meeks scored 12 points and Ramel Bradley had 11 for eighth-seeded
Wildcats (22-11), who advance to the second round to take on top-seeded
Joe Crawford added 10 points as Kentucky notched its 98th NCAA Tournament
victory, tops in the nation.
Freshman Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points and Curtis Sumpter had 19 points
and eight boards for Villanova (22-11), which advanced to the Elite Eight in
last year’s tournament.
Down by four at halftime, Will Sheridan and Dante Cunningham opened up the
second half with two straight baskets and Reynolds hit 2-of-3 free throws to
quickly give Villanova a 34-30 lead.
Kentucky, however, responded as Crawford nailed a jumper and Morris hit 1-of-2
free throws to make it 34-33. Morris then earned another trip to the line and
made both of his attempts to put Kentucky in front and Bradley added two free
throws of his own to make it 37-34.
Sheridan hit a jumper to bring Villanova within 37-36, but that was as close
as the ninth-seeded ‘Nova would get as Crawford drained a three to spark a
12-3 Kentucky run that made it 49-39 with 8 1/2 minutes to play.
Reynolds’ three-point play — his first basket of the second half — brought
Villanova within five, 59-54, with 2:13 remaining. Mike Nardi then had two
open looks at three-pointers that would have made it a one-possession, but the
Villanova senior came up empty each time as Kentucky hit its free throws down
the stretch to ice the game.
Villanova hit its first four three-point attempts and took a 14-9 lead on
Nardi’s trey just under six minutes into the first half. Kentucky answered
back as Bradley made a layup and then hit a trey to tie the game at 18-18 with
8 1/2 minutes remaining.
Morris followed with a free throw and then made a layup of his own to complete
an 8-0 run and give Kentucky a 21-18 lead. A Shane Clark dunk followed by a
Reynolds’ three and layup put Villanova up 26-23 with just under three minutes
remaining, but Kentucky closed the first half out with a 7-2 spurt and took a
30-28 lead into the locker room.
Kentucky has won six of the seven all-time meetings against Villanova, with
its only loss coming in the 1988 NCAA Tournament…Nardi had been hampered by
a sore ankle and played sparingly in the Big East Tournament.