- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS Keith Bogans stood in front of the bench and cupped his hands together, silently pleading for his Kentucky teammates to pull through without him.
As they have all done during a remarkable winning streak, the Wildcats showed their balance and power last night and gave the injured Bogans his wish.
With Bogans out because of a sprained left ankle, Marquis Estill scored a career-high 28 points and the Wildcats ran their winning streak to 26 games, holding off scrappy Wisconsin 63-57 in the Midwest Region semifinals.
Bogans, the Wildcats' top scorer and floor leader, was hurt late in the first half. The star guard's status for tomorrow was uncertain.
"We're not sure about the extent of Keith's injury," coach Tubby Smith said. "We know it's a high ankle sprain. They took an X-ray, so there's no crack or anything of that nature. It's just something he's going to have to get treatment on and hopefully he'll be ready Saturday."
Top-seeded Kentucky (32-3) will try for another trip to the Final Four when it meets the Pittsburgh-Marquette winner.
"Keith is a big part of the team, but we've got a lot of guys who can step up their roles. It was a prime example tonight," Wildcats guard Gerald Fitch said.
"That's our leader. We just had to win this one without him," Kentucky's Chuck Hayes said. "He's been there vocally the whole year. That's your family member right there."
If Bogans can't play, the Wildcats will need another big game from the 6-9, 240-pound Estill, who hit 12 of 18 shots.
"My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball," Estill said. "I knew they would keep doing what they did in the first half. I knew they wouldn't change. We kept our composure. We knew they'd have a lot of fans here."
Bogans sprained his ankle with 3:32 left in the first half. Wisconsin's Kirk Penney lost the ball under the basket, turned around to run back down the floor and fell over the Kentucky star.
"I made an up-and-under move. I kind of went into him, and I think he fell awkwardly. Then I was coming back on defense, didn't see him and tripped over him, so it was kind of a double whammy," Penney said.
Bogans winced on the bench during a timeout, lobbied to get back in and then limped on the court with a little less than two minutes left. But hampered and in obvious pain, he headed to the locker room with 53 seconds to go in the half.
He didn't take part in warmups before the second half but finally limped to the Kentucky bench five minutes in.
When Bogans finally rejoined the bench, the Wildcats went on a 12-4 run and held Wisconsin without a field goal for more than six minutes, taking a 50-44 lead with 9:19 left and looking as if they were ready to pull away.
But the fifth-seeded Big Ten regular-season champs, bolstered by thousands of thundering red-clad fans who had an easy drive across the Wisconsin state line to the Metrodome, wouldn't go away.
"We let a close game slip away against the top team in the country," said Wisconsin's Freddie Owens, whose last-second 3-pointer beat Tulsa in the second round. He was only 1-for-8 from the field last night.
Kentucky's defense also tightened up in the second half on Penney, who had 17 first-half points and then just three the rest of the way.
"We got killed in the paint. It really stings. If a couple of those late shots go down, it could have been totally different. It's eating me up," Owens said.
The Badgers made their last surge when Mike Wilkinson had a layup and Devin Harris made two spectacular driving baskets to cut the lead to two with just under seven minutes left.
Again the Wildcats went inside and Estill muscled in for another basket and then hit two free throws as the Wildcats regained a six-point lead.
"Our whole game plan was to get Marquis the ball. They're a very small team, especially in the post," Fitch said. "We knew they would guard him 1-on-1. We don't think anyone can guard him 1-on-1."
Wisconsin rallied to within one when Harris hit a 3-pointer and Wilkinson drove for a basket with 1:33 remaining.
But Erik Daniels tipped in a miss by Estill with 1:03 left to give Kentucky a 58-55 lead. And after a traveling call on Wilkinson with 49 seconds remaining, Estill made one of two foul shots with 32 seconds left, pushing the lead back to four.
After Wilkinson missed twice from the line with 23 seconds remaining, Kentucky hit four free throws in the closing seconds.
Penney, the New Zealand native who played on Wisconsin's Final Four team in 2000, hit a 3-pointer with 15:30 left to give the Badgers (24-8) their final lead at 40-38. He finished with 20 points but attempted just three shots in the second half.
Harris finished with 15 points and Wilkinson 13.
With Bogans already in the locker room, the Wildcats didn't miss him the final minute of the half. They made three straight steals, converting them into four free throws and then a final basket by Estill with three seconds to go for a 32-28 lead.
Cliff Hawkins, who replaced Bogans in the second half, had four of Kentucky's 10 steals.
Estill's previous career high was 22 against Iowa two years ago in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"We kept our composure and found a way to win. That's what a good team does," Smith said.

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