Brandon Knight did it again.
Knight knocked down a jumper with five seconds remaining as the fourth-seeded Wildcats stunned top-seeded Ohio State 62-60 on Friday in the East regional semifinals.
Senior centre Josh Harrellson held his own against Ohio State super freshman Jared Sullinger, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Wildcats (28-8) advanced to play North Carolina on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four.
Knight, who knocked down a game-winner in Kentucky's second-round win over Princeton, shrugged off another sluggish performance to drill the biggest shot of his career.
Kentucky coach John Calipari opted not to call timeout after Ohio State's John Diebler hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 60 with 21 seconds remaining, and Knight delivered a silky 15-foot jumper.
Ohio State rushed down the floor, but William Buford's three-pointer clanked off the rim and the rebound was tapped out of harm's way.
The Wildcats, who struggled to win close games earlier in the season, flooded onto the floor as the buzzer sounded. DeAndre Liggins, like Harrellson a leftover from Billy Gillispie's days at Kentucky, hopped atop a table and pounded his chest as Knight stood at halfcourt and soaked in the moment.
Liggins added 15 points for the Wildcats, who beat Ohio State for the first time in the NCAA tournament behind a suffocating defence that limited the Buckeyes to 32 percent shooting.
Sullinger led Ohio State (34-3) with 21 points and 16 rebounds, but the Buckeyes fell in the regional semifinals for a second straight season.
The win gives Kentucky a chance to avenge a loss to the Tar Heels earlier in the season. The Wildcats fell 75-73 in Chapel Hill in December, a game in which they gave away several chances to win. Those days seem long gone. Kentucky has won nine straight and developed the kind of grit Calipari knew would come if he stayed patient with his freshmen-laden roster.
The Wildcats succeeded where so many teams have failed this season against the Buckeyes, dominating them on the defensive end.
Kentucky swarmed the three-point line, limiting the sharpshooting Buckeyes — who had made 28 three-pointers in easy victories over Texas-San Antonio and George Mason — to just 6-of-16 three-pointers.
Ohio State wasn't any better inside the arc, shooting just 33 per cent from the field as everyone besides Sullinger struggled to find room against Kentucky's myriad of defensive looks.
The first NCAA meeting between the two schools in 24 years had a Final Four feel. There were 19 lead changes, with no team leading by more than three points over the final 17 minutes.
(2) North Carolina 81, (11) Marquette 63
North Carolina is back and put the whole package — offence, defence and toughness — on display while dismantling Marquette.
Just a year after missing the NCAA party, the kids from Chapel Hill stole the show at their East Regional semifinal.
Tyler Zeller had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and North Carolina took control early for a change, rolling to an 81-63 victory on Friday night at the Prudential Center.
John Henson added 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Harrison Barnes added 20 points and six rebounds as the second-seeded Tar Heels (29-7) moved to within a game of reaching the Final Four for the third time in four years.
North Carolina will face Kentucky or top-seed Ohio State on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four in Houston.
Wow might have been the best word to describe the effort by a team that doesn't start or really play a senior.
The Tar Heels limited No. 11 seed Marquette (22-15) to 15 first-half points while opening a 25-point lead.
The 15 first-half points were the second-fewest allowed by North Carolina in a half in 144 NCAA tournament games, and the Golden Eagles' 20 per cent shooting from the field came on 6-of-30 shooting.
Davante Gardner led the Golden Eagles with 16 points and six rebounds.
Toronto's Junior Cadougan scored 10 points to go along with five assists and two rebounds for Marquette.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams used all but two of his time-outs in the opening half to try to turn things around to no effect.
Unlike the ACC tournament when they had to rally from double-digit deficits, the Tar Heels played a physical game against their tough-minded Big East Conference opponent for the opening eight minutes and then took control.
Trailing 10-8 with 12:43 to go, North Carolina went on a 19-0 run, forcing Marquette to miss 14 straight shots. The game was just about over at that point.