Kentucky 82, New Mexico St. 60
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Kentucky’s experience finally became too much for New Mexico State.
Heshimu Evans scored nine points during a 21-0 second-half run as defending national champion Kentucky (26-8) shook off inexperienced New Mexico State and won 82-60 Friday night in the Midwest Regional.
New Mexico State (23-10), which had no players with previous postseason experience, was only down 44-43 after Eric Channing’s 3-pointer with 15:43 left.
Scott Padgett, who along with Evans is among four Wildcats who have played in at least two national championship games, responded with a 3-pointer on the other end to start the decisive Kentucky run.
By time Evans scored on an inside basket with 8:52 left, Kentucky had a 65-43 lead. Evans also had a 3-pointer, two free throws and another inside spurt in the seven-minute outburst.
The Wildcats, who shot 61 percent (30-of-49), advance to a second-round game Sunday against Kansas, the only team to win more games than Kentucky in the 1990s.
New Mexico State, which had won seven straight games, built an early five-point lead, but had to settle for a 34-34 halftime tie.
Channing’s 3-pointer was third field goal of the second half for New Mexico State _ all 3-pointers. But the Aggies then missed 11 straight shots as Kentucky put the game away.