TAMPA, Fla. - Brandon Knight missed his first seven shots and even found himself on the bench in the final minute against Princeton.
His confidence could have been shaken. His ego could have been bruised. After all, he was a freshman playing in his first NCAA tournament game.
Then again, Knight’s no ordinary newcomer.
Held scoreless for more than 39 minutes, Knight made a driving layup with 2 seconds remaining to lift No. 4 seed Kentucky to a 59-57 win over 13th-seeded Princeton on Thursday.
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“I have all the faith and confidence in the world in him,” said coach John Calipari, who put the ball in Knight’s hands with the game on the line.
The kid delivered, and Kentucky (26-8) advanced to face West Virginia (21-11) in the East regional Saturday.
“If we lose that game, the season’s over,” said Knight, who grew up about four hours south in Fort Lauderdale. “I would have been happy as long as we won, no matter who hit the shot.”
West Virginia 84, Clemson 76: Playing its second game in just over 36 hours, 12th-seeded Clemson built an early double-digit lead before falling.
Darryl Bryant scored 19 points, and Kevin Jones added 17 as West Virginia overcame its slow start.
Andre Young scored 22 points for Clemson, which beat Alabama-Birmingham in the opening round of the tournament Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, then boarded a plane for a middle-of-the-night flight to Florida to face a team that hadn’t played in eight days.