Kentucky forward Anthony Davis, left, pulls down a rebound over Iowa State forward Anthony Booker, rear, during the Wildcats’ lopsided win Saturday to advance back to the Sweet 16.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Freshman Marquis Teague finally feels in step with Kentucky coach John Calipari’s offense.
Now, he’s taking the Wildcats to the South Regional semifinals in Atlanta, and maybe a lot farther than that.
Teague scored a career-high 24 points and top seed Kentucky put together another complete performance with a dominating second-half run in an 87-71 victory over Iowa State in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
“I didn’t really care about scoring points. I just wanted to get my teammates involved and do whatever I needed to do to help my team win,” said Teague, who added seven assists. “I was just trying to push the ball in transition and take whatever play they were going to give me. They gave me the layup a lot tonight.”
Freshman Anthony Davis had 15 points and 12 rebounds, senior Darius Miller added 19 points and Doron Lamb finished with 16. The Wildcats (34-2) used a 20-2 burst to break away from a tie and next will face fourth-seeded Indiana on Friday.
Teague’s role as point guard has been one of the hardest on a team full of NBA talent. He’s had to learn the position under Calipari and acknowledged earlier this year he worried so much about it he has had sleepless nights.
“I just was thinking too much. Trying to force shots up sometimes instead of the making the easy play,” Teague said. “Coming out of high school I scored a lot of points, and that’s what I was used to doing. But playing with guys like I’m playing with, you don’t need to do that.”
Not with a team that has this many playmakers.
Kentucky now gets another crack at the Hoosiers, who beat them on a last-second 3-pointer by Christian Watford in December when the young ‘Cats committed a defensive lapse that cost them on the final play.
“That was a rough day for us. Hate to lose any game but the way we lost, that just made it that much worse. Had to move on past that day,” Teague said. “Guess we got ‘em again. We just have to come out and play our hardest. We’re not talking revenge or anything.”
Among the players who have improved the most since then is Teague, often overshadowed and compared to Calipari’s former floor leaders at Kentucky and Memphis, including John Wall, Brandon Knight, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.
“I brought him here because when I watched him play, I absolutely loved his game. He is a tough — I call him a pitbull,” Calipari said. “Great athleticism, but a really smart floor game. Now, for us, he could score more, but why would you score more on this team as a point guard? But today, they really left him. I told him, look, you’ve got to keep people honest.”
So when Teague and Calipari talked before a first-half timeout, the coach was impressed Teague recognized the defense was rolling off him, allowing him to cut to the basket.
“I told him you just created two unbelievable shots for your teammates. Now, just keep playing,” Calipari said. “They were all focused.”
Royce White, who almost transferred to Kentucky before settling in Ames, scored 23 points and had nine rebounds before fouling out with 4:32 left for Iowa State (23-11), which beat defending national champion Connecticut on Thursday night.
“We’ve got nothing to hang our head about. We got beat by the No. 1 overall seed that played an incredible game,” Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We’re going to walk out of Lexington, I’m sorry, where are we? Louisville, with our head held high.”
The Cyclones couldn’t contend with Kentucky’s overwhelming offense and smothering defense after rallying from a 12-point halftime deficit to 42-all with 16:23 left.
Teague and Kentucky turned up the pressure with their big run.
Terrence Jones hit a basket, Miller added another and Jones flipped an alley-oop to Davis. After two free throws by Scott Christopherson, the Wildcats ran off 14 straight points that made it 62-42.
Jones finished with eight points and 11 rebounds as Kentucky led by as many as 24 with 6:27 left while shooting 55.4 percent from the field on the night.
Chris Allen scored 16 points and Christopherson finished with 15 for the Cyclones, who struggled from 3-point range.
“Our biggest strength is the 3-point shot, and we go 3 for 22,” Hoiberg said. “We’re not going to win very many games when we shoot the ball like that.”
In this tournament, Kentucky has remained the mark of consistency so far and made the most of its two games in its own state, just 75 miles from campus. Seemingly every member of Big Blue Nation attended, including actress Ashley Judd, who was stationed just behind the bench with Calipari’s family.
Teague and the rest of the Wildcats made sure the show was worth it.
“That’s about as good as we can play,” Calipari said. “I want them to just look at this and be happy, but not satisfied. Let’s just keep stepping.”
PITTSBURGH — Scoop Jardine had 16 points and eight assists to lead top-seeded Syracuse to a 75-59 victory over eighth-seeded Kansas State on Saturday in the third round of the East Regional.
James Southerland added 15 points for the Orange (33-2), who didn’t wait until the final minutes to seal the win as they did in the second round against 16th-seeded North Carolina-Asheville.
Syracuse plays Wisconsin in Boston on Thursday night in the regional semifinals.
Rodney McGruder had 15 points for the Wildcats (22-11), who struggled from the field against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense.
Neither team had its leading rebounder. Syracuse’s 7-foot Fab Melo, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, was declared ineligible by the school for the rest of the tournament earlier in the week. About 20 minutes before the start of this game, Kansas State announced that Jamar Samuels would be held out over an eligibility issue.
No. 2 OHIO STATE 73, No. 7 GONZAGA 66:
PITTSBURGH — Jared Sullinger scored 18 points, including two big baskets in the final 3 minutes to lead Ohio State past Gonzaga and into the round of 16 for the third straight year.
DeShaun Thomas also scored 18 for the Buckeyes (29-7), while Aaron Craft added 17 points and 10 assists. Ohio State will play Florida State or Cincinnati in the East Regional semifinals Thursday in Boston.
Gary Bell Jr. led Gonzaga (26-7) with 18 points, but the Bulldogs were unable to become the third team to knock off a No. 2 seed in less than 24 hours.
Gonzaga erased a 10-point deficit to tie it at 61 on a 3-pointer by Elias Harris with 4:05 remaining, but Sullinger knocked down two pretty hook shots late while the Bulldogs went cold.
No. 4 WISCONSIN 60, No. 5 VANDERBILT 57:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ryan Evans scored 11 points and grabbed a crucial rebound in the closing seconds.
John Jenkins took a 3-pointer that would have given the Commodores the lead, but it bounced high off the rim and Evans pulled down the rebound and was fouled with 2.1 seconds left.
He made the first free throw to make it a three-point game. After a Vanderbilt timeout, he missed the second and the Commodores called time with 1.3 seconds remaining.
Jared Berggren contested the inbounds pass and got his right hand on Lance Goulbourne’s overhand heave and started celebrating Wisconsin’s fifth trip to the round of 16 under coach Bo Ryan as the horn sounded.
No. 3 MARQUETTE 62, No. 6 MURRAY STATE 53:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jae Crowder scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, and Marquette used a late run to overcome Murray State.
Trailing 46-41 with 7:43 to play, Marquette went on a 14-2 run. While Crowder and Davante Gardner took care of the offense, scoring all but two points during the spurt, the Golden Eagles used their size and strength to wear down the pesky Racers.
Isaiah Canaan scored 16 for Murray State, (31-2) which is still looking to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. It’s the second time in three years Murray State has fallen short of the regional semifinals.
Marquette (27-7) plays the winner of Norfolk State-Florida next Thursday in Phoenix.
LOUISVILLE 59, NEW MEXICO 56:
PORTLAND, Ore. — Russ Smith had 17 points as Louisville held off New Mexico 59-56 Saturday night for its sixth consecutive win to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2009.
Kyle Kuric added 10 points for the Big East tournament champions, who lost their first game of the NCAA tournament the past two seasons.
Trailing 53-46, New Mexico’s Drew Gordon hit a pair of free throws, and Demetrius Walker made a 3-pointer to pull to within 53-51 with 1:36 left. Smith made a pair of free throws for fourth-seeded Louisville (28-9), but Gordon answered with a tip-in.
Gorgui Dieng dunked with 32.3 seconds left and Peyton Siva added free throws to make it 59-53. Gordon dropped a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left, but it was too late for the fifth seeded Lobos (28-7), who have never been to the round of 16.
Baylor 80, Colorado 63:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Brady Heslip made nine 3-pointers and finished with 27 points Saturday to lift Baylor to an 80-63 victory over Colorado in the South Regional.
Heslip, a transfer from Boston College who grew up in Canada, helped break open a tight game with a pair of 3-pointers that were part of a 14-0 run and gave the third-seeded Bears (29-7) a 75-60 lead.
Baylor made the regional finals for the second time in three years under coach Scott Drew. The Bears will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Xavier and Lehigh.
Pierre Jackson had 13 points and 10 assists for Baylor.
Freshman Askia Booker had 15 points for 11th-seeded Colorado (24-12), which saw its winning streak in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournament end at five.