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Baylor stands in way for No. 1 Kentucky

ATLANTA -- It is now three down and three to go for Kentucky, which is trying to become just the second No. 1-ranked team in the past 17 years to win the NCAA championship.

The Wildcats, who are in the Elite Eight for the third straight season, face Baylor for the South Regional title today at 2:20 p.m. in the Georgia Dome with Kentucky fans already counting on trip to New Orleans for the Final Four.

But Baylor, which can match Kentucky's tall and talented front line, could be a roadblock for the Wildcats in their attempt to match Duke's 2001 run to the NCAA title as a No. 1 team.

Upsets have become more the rule than the exception in the NCAA Tournament and the No. 3 seed Bears aren't in unfamiliar territory thanks to a second trip to the Elite Eight in three years.

"We're just looking forward to go a little farther and make a little history," Baylor's Quincy Acy said.

The Bears (30-7) defeated Xavier 75-70 in the first South Regional semifinal on Friday, but the game had the feel of a JV warm-up with what was to come.

Kentucky (35-2) was almost perfect offensively in racing to a 102-90 victory over No. 4 seed Indiana in the late game.

The victory avenged Kentucky's only regular-season loss and the way his team was able to mount up the points even caught John Calapari a little off guard.

Said the Wildcats coach: "If you had told me that this team that we played, Indiana, was going to score 90 and shoot 52 percent from the floor, I would have to tell you, 'Wow, it's been a nice season. Hate to end it that way.'

"But we won."

Kentucky did hit by committing just six turnovers and going 35-for-37 from the free throw line.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-- Kentucky's other freshman standout -- had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way. The Wildcats' placed five players in double figures and one of them wasn't player of the year Anthony Davis.

"They are a very talented team," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "We scored 90 points, but they've got a lot of guys. They have a guy coming off the bench that's going to be a first-round draft pick in Darius Miller. They are tremendous."

Davis is expected to go first in the NBA draft. But he got into early foul trouble against the Hoosiers and sat much of the first half before finishing with a rather quiet nine points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.

"This game is over. I have to just block it out and go on to Sunday's game," the 6-foot-10 Davis said afterwards.

"By the second half, my teammate told me, 'You're fine. Just come out and play your game. We need you to steal, block shots, rebound and score the ball.' So that's what I did in the second half."

Kidd-Gilchrist had just five points in Kentucky's loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC championship game and came in with only 11 points in the first two NCAA Tournament games.

"I was in a slump for a long time," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "It was just confidence, I think. It was just building up."

Having Kidd-Gilchrist going again is a good sign for the Wildcats. So was being able to beat Indiana without a big game from Davis.

Kentucky fell to Connecticut 56-55 in the NCAA title game a year ago and lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight the season before.

Despite three freshmen starters, this is supposed to be the team that brings proud Kentucky its first NCAA championship since 1998. But the Wildcats don't seem to feel the pressure. Calipari has tried to make sure of that.

The players went to the movies in Atlanta on Thursday night to see "21 Jump Street." They won't watch film of Baylor until today and then for only about four minutes.

Calipari preaches that the Wildcats shouldn't even think about this being a tournament. They truly seem to be taking it one game at a time.

"This is a very unusual team," the coach said. "They don't play tight. They don't play not to lose. Any one of them could go for 30 (points). We've had seven different players lead us in scoring. Seven.

"My job is to get them to chase perfection. I don't know if we're ever going to reach it. But how well can we play?"

Indiana found out. Now Baylor gets a crack at the Wildcats. A victory would put the Bears in the Final Four for the first time after a loss to Duke two years ago in the South Regional title game cost them a trip.

"When you've done something, human nature is you want to go the next step," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "With people experiencing the Elite Eight before, that's helped us stay grounded, focused to try to be in a situation where you can cut down the nets and go to the Final Four."

-- Who: Kentucky vs. Baylor

-- When: 2:20 p.m. today

-- Where: Georgia Dome

-- TV: CBS