LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Take away the sluggish start and ragged finish, and top-ranked Kentucky opened the NCAA tournament just the way it wanted against 16th-seeded Hampton.
Karl-Anthony Towns, a potential top-three pick in the NBA lottery, bounced back from a mini-slump with 21 points and 11 rebounds, Andrew Harrison added 14 points and the Wildcats rolled to a 79-56 win over the outmanned Pirates on Thursday night in the Midwest Regional.
Getting started took some doing for Kentucky (35-0), which was already resigned to the late tipoff. The Wildcats' wait became even longer as Cincinnati fought to a 66-65 overtime win over Purdue in the preceding game.
"I didn't like how we started the game, I didn't quite like how we finished the game, but it is 1 o'clock at night," said coach John Calipari, who nonetheless called it a good win. "And we had an overtime game where the guys were hanging out in the locker room for an hour and a half, so I'm going to chalk it up to that and move on."
PITTSBURGH - Butler faces off against Notre Dame with a trip to the Sweet 16 at stake Saturday. Separated by three hours and 150 miles of Indiana highway, sixth-seeded Butler (23-10) and the third-seeded Irish (30-5) met regularly from 1908-1994 but have faced off just once in the last 20 years. The teams spend a few hours in the same building every December at an annual doubleheader that also features Indiana and Purdue. Since the Hoosiers and the Boilermakers - Big Ten rivals - can't play each other in that setting, neither can the Bulldogs and the Irish.