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Last-second shot ousts Buckeyes

Easy basket, easy win: North Carolina’s John Henson, a graduate of Tampa’s Sickles High, dunks for two of his 14 points. He also has 12 rebounds during an 81-63 victory over Marquette.

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Easy basket, easy win: North Carolina’s John Henson, a graduate of Tampa’s Sickles High, dunks for two of his 14 points. He also has 12 rebounds during an 81-63 victory over Marquette.

NEWARK, N.J. — Brandon Knight did it again.

The freshman knocked down a jumper with 5.4 seconds left as Kentucky beat top-seeded Ohio State 62-60 on Friday in the East Region semifinals.

The Wildcats' senior center, Josh Harrellson, held his own against Ohio State's super freshman, Jared Sullinger, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

After missing all of his previous shots from the field, Knight hit the winning basket with two seconds left in Kentucky's tournament-opening win over Princeton. Friday, he shrugged off another sluggish performance to drill the biggest shot of his career.

Kentucky coach John Calipari opted not to call timeout after Ohio State's John Diebler hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 60 with 21.2 seconds left. And Knight delivered a 15-foot jumper.

Ohio State rushed down the floor. But William Buford's 3-pointer clanked off the rim, and the rebound was tapped out of harm's way.

The Wildcats rushed onto the floor as the buzzer sounded. DeAndre Liggins, like Harrellson a leftover from coach Billy Gillispie's days at Kentucky, hopped atop a table and pounded his chest as Knight stood at halfcourt and soaked in the moment.

The win gives Kentucky a chance to avenge a loss to North Carolina this season. The Wildcats fell 75-73 in Chapel Hill in December, a game in which they gave away several chances to win.

Liggins added 15 points for the Wildcats (28-8), who beat Ohio State for the first time in the NCAA Tournament behind a suffocating defense that limited the Buckeyes to 32 percent shooting.

Sullinger led Ohio State (34-3) with 21 points and 16 rebounds. But the Buckeyes fell in the region semifinals for a second straight season.

Heels make quick work of Golden Eagles

NEWARK, N.J. — North Carolina put the whole package — offense, defense and toughness — on display while dismantling Marquette 81-63.

The Tar Heels (29-7) limited Marquette (22-15) to 15 first-half points while opening a 25-point lead.

The first-half points were the second fewest allowed by North Carolina in a half in 144 tournament games (eight against Pitt in the first half of the 1941 East semifinal).

And Marquette's 20 percent shooting from the field, on 6-of-30 shooting, was the second lowest allowed in a half by it in a tournament game (16.7 percent against Radford in the second half of a 2009 first-round game).

"I still think we can play better," Tar Heels guard Dexter Strickland said. "We haven't played to our potential."

Unlike the ACC tournament, when they had to rally from double-digit deficits, the Tar Heels took control early.

Trailing 10-8 with 12:43 to go, North Carolina went on a 19-0 run as Marquette missed 14 consecutive shots. Marquette coach Buzz Williams called three timeouts during the run.

"We just couldn't do anything right in the first half, and that's just not the way we play," said Davante Gardner, who led the Golden Eagles with 16 points. "It was uncharacteristic of us, and actually, it was pretty embarrassing."

Marquette's futility finally ended when Butler hit a jumper with 3:54 to go — there was a derisive cheer from the crowd when the ball went in — ending a nearly nine-minute scoring drought. The Golden Eagles scored five points in the final 12:42 of the half to fall behind 40-15.

North Carolina added to Marquette's misery in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring the first six for a 46-15 lead.

After the second basket, Williams called another timeout.

Again, it didn't matter.

Strickland stole the ensuing inbound pass and scored on a fastbreak.

Last-second shot ousts Buckeyes 03/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 26, 2011 1:37am]

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