Kentucky 94, UCLA 68
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Not even fabled UCLA was a match for Kentucky, a No. 2 seed playing like it might be the No. 1 team in the country.
Jeff Sheppard’s shooting and the inside muscle of Scott Padgett and Nazr Mohammed overpowered the depleted Bruins from the start, and the Wildcats romped 94-68 Friday night in a South regional mismatch of college basketball’s two most storied teams.
Kentucky (32-4), only the No. 2 seed in the South despite winning its last 10 by an average margin of 21 points, will meet top-seeded Duke (32-3), an 80-67 winner over Syracuse, in Sunday’s championship game.
It will be a long-awaited rematch of the Blue Devils’ memorable 104-103 overtime victory in the 1992 East Regional final, a game often referred to as the best ever played in college basketball. Kentucky fans certainly haven’t forgotten, jeering Duke throughout the Blue Devils’ two subregional victories in Lexington last weekend.
Padgett scored 19 points, Sheppard hit for 16 more from the outside and Mohammed had 15 points and seven rebounds as the three badly outplayed UCLA’s senior trio of J.R. Henderson, Toby Bailey and Kris Johnson, the only remaining players from the Bruins’ 1995 title team.