Wildcats Eliminated From NCAA Tournament
March 29, 2003
By RICK GANO
MINNEAPOLIS - Marquette did what no team had done in three months, and what many people thought was impossible.
Dwyane Wade and the Golden Eagles upset Kentucky 83-69 Saturday, ending the top-seeded Wildcats' 26-game winning streak and earning a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans.
Cheered by a sea of yellow-clad followers, Marquette's surprising rout gave the school its third regional title and first since 1977, when Al McGuire coached the team to its only national title.
If Wade keeps it up, the Golden Eagles might get another. He showed again why he's one of the nation's top players with a triple-double - 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
"My mind-set was to give it my all," he said. "You never want to leave anything on the court, and I told the guys to leave their hearts out there. And once I got going, my teammates found me. Once anybody gets going, it can be tough to stop."
As he stood on the floor celebrating, Marquette's fans began chanting "One more year, One more year" to the talented junior, who is a top NBA prospect.
Wade did get plenty of help in this game. Burly 6-foot-10 Robert Jackson, a transfer from Mississippi State, had 24 points and 15 rebounds, and freshman Steve Novak hit five 3-pointers and scored 16 to help the Golden Eagles win convincingly.
Marquette (27-5) used a 35-12 run over the final 12 minutes of the first half to take a 45-26 lead against the stunned Wildcats, who hadn't lost since Dec. 28, against Louisville.
"Is it amazing we were up by the margin we were? Yes it was," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "What Kentucky did the last three months was incredible. Our respect for them is a major reason we knew we had to be on top of our game."
Kentucky's star guard, Keith Bogans, wore a protective brace on the left ankle he sprained in Thursday's semifinal win over Wisconsin.
He scored 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting in 24 minutes, but with his quickness hampered, the Wildcats simply couldn't respond to Marquette's offense.
"Just by being out there, I was trying to show my teammates how badly I wanted to play," Bogans said. "It meant a lot to me to be out there playing in this game."
Kentucky (32-4) pulled within 12 with 10:50 left and had a chance to cut it to 10. But after a great spinning move to the basket, Antwain Barbour was called for an offensive foul, sending Wildcats coach Tubby Smith into a dance of disgust.
From there, Wade was too much for the Wildcats to control, scoring several of his baskets on eye-popping dunks.
After Scott Merritt hit a jumper, Wade scored Marquette's next 11 points with two three-point plays and a 3-pointer to put the victory away.
During the spree, Wade fouled out Kentucky's defensive standout Chuck Hayes with 6:17 left as Marquette went up 72-54.
The 6-foot-5 Wade put his considerable athletic ability on display early when he went straight up under the basket and blocked a shot by 6-9 Marquis Estill. Wade then drove for an acrobatic reverse layup on the other end that Estill goaltended.
The sequence put the Golden Eagles ahead 26-19 with 6:29 left in the half and provided the spark for what was ahead.
"I think that got us going for the rest of the game," Bogans said. "I was so pumped, and so was everybody after that."'
Wade made another spectacular drive to the basket, and though he missed the reverse scoop, he was fouled and hit two free throws to put Marquette up by nine.
Travis Diener sank a 3-pointer and Novak, a star in Marquette's second-round overtime win against Missouri, hit three 3-pointers in a span of 2:30 as the Golden Eagles roared ahead by 21.
Jackson, who became familiar with Kentucky while at Mississippi State before transferring to play one final season at Marquette, was able to negate Estill, who had scored 28 points in a win over Wisconsin. Estill finished with 10.
Bogans scored nine points in the first half, playing 14 minutes, but his quickness was obviously affected by his injury. One time after coming down awkwardly on his left foot, he winced in pain.
Kentucky went inside early and at one point had a 12-5 rebounding edge. But by the end of the half, Marquette had a 25-21 edge on the boards; Jackson grabbed 10 to go with his 14 first-half points.
Now it's on to New Orleans, where the Golden Eagles will face either Kansas or Arizona in the national semifinals.