ATLANTA – No. 1-ranked Kentucky avenged its only regular-season loss and in the process the Wildcats showed that they can win even when freshman inside force Anthony Davis isn’t a major force.
Kentucky defeated Indiana 102-90 before a crowd of 24,731 on Friday night at the Georgia Dome as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – the Wildcats’ other top freshman -- led the way with 24 points and added 10 rebounds.
The victory advanced the Wildcats (35-2) to Sunday’s Elite Eight match-up with No. 3 seed Baylor (30-7) at the Georgia Dome. The Bears defeated Xavier 75-70 in the first South Regional semifinals Friday night.
Doron Lamb had 21 points for Kentucky. Darius Miller added 19 points, Marquis Teague 14 and Terrance Jones 12 for the Wildcats, who were 35 of 37 from the foul line. Teague also had seven assists.
Davis got into early foul trouble and sat much of the first half. He finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.
No. 4-seeded Indiana (27-9) was led by Christian Watford, who scored 27 points. Cody Zeller had 20 points and Victor Oladipo scored 15 before fouling out.
Kentucky led 50-47 at halftime despite playing without Davis since he drew his second foul 6:37 into the game.
The Wildcats were up 31-22 midway in the half thanks to a 10-3 run. But Indiana came storming back and went up 43-39 before Kentucky regained the lead by finishing the half with an 11-4 spurt.
Watford led all scorers with 17 points at intermission and had 15 of Indiana’s final 17 points. Jones, who hit a 3-pointer on Kentucky’s first possession, had 12 first-half points and Kidd-Gilchrist added 11 for the Wildcats.
Indiana shot 58.1 percent in the first half and Kentucky made 48.7 percent of its attempts as the teams raced up and down the court.
With Miller hitting two 3-pointers and adding a pair of free throws, Kentucky built its lead to 64-56 four minutes into the second half.
The game’s first double-figure lead came with 10:26 left when Davis hit two free throws after Oladipo drew his fourth foul.
Soon the margin was 79-66 as Kidd-Gilchrist finished a three-point play and Davis scored on a rebound.
Olidipo fouled out with 4:49 remaining and Lamb’s two free throws made it 84-77.
Indiana was 9-for-15 from behind the arc in the 73-72 upset of Kentucky in Bloomington on Dec. 10, Watford’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer signaling Indiana’s return to national significance.
Watford had 20 points in that game and the Hosiers placed five players in double figures. It wasn’t as if Kentucky struggled offensively as a team in the loss, though. The Wildcats shot 55.6 percent, but Davis wasn’t dominant defensively and Jones contributed just four points.