Power forward Julius Randle made a strong impression Friday night, helping the No. 8-seeded Kentucky Wildcats get past the No. 4-seeded Louisville Cardinals to advance to the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight.
Along with forward Aaron Gordon of top-seeded Arizona, Randle is one of two top NBA draft prospects to advance deep into the tournament.
Scoring 15 points with 12 rebounds, Randle made a number of key plays to help Kentucky survive Louisville, including his lone assist that led to an Aaron Harrison three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 70-68 lead with 40 seconds left.
Randle also sank a pair of free throws with 13 seconds on the clock, to push Kentucky up by three -- the Wildcats ultimately winning, 74-69.
The 6-foot-9, 19-year-old Randle could go the top five in June's NBA draft.
Other prospects, including Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Duke's Jabari Parker, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Creighton's Doug McDermott, have already been eliminated.
Randle's teammate Willie Cauley-Stein left in the first half with an ankle injury. His status was unclear. The center, assuming he didn't suffer anything serious on Friday, could also be a lottery pick (top 14) in June.
Kentucky swingman James Young, projected to be a first-round pick, struggled with foul trouble against Louisville, fouling out after scoring nine points in 22 minutes.
Louisville's Montrezl Harrell, possibly a top-20 pick, also fouled out after scoring 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds.
Gordon will lead Arizona against second-seeded Wisconsin in the West Regional final in Anaheim on Saturday. Kentucky draws second-seeded Michigan in the Midwest Regional final in Indianapolis on Sunday.
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times