TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Western Kentucky blew another big lead, then responded to turn back San Diego in a battle between a 12-seed and a 13-seed for a spot in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 15 years, with a 72-63 win.
Now comes the toughest test. Western Kentucky (29-6) will face top-seeded UCLA in the West Region semifinals in Phoenix.
Courtney Lee, the Sun Belt player of the year, finished with 29 points and 7 rebounds. He had a huge 3-pointer that gave his team the lead for good with 6:17 remaining, then sank 6 straight free throws in the final :34 to seal the victory.
Tyrone Brazelton added 15 points for the Hilltoppers, who won for the 19th time in 20 games.
Ty Rogers, who hit a 26-footer at the buzzer in overtime to beat Drake in the 1st round, had a much quieter afternoon offensively. He had 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, but he came through on the defensive end, holding San Diego's Brandon Johnson to 4-of-15 shooting and 13 points.
The Hilltoppers' sizzling start helped them open a 10-point lead in the first 10+ minutes. They stretched it 37-23 with an 8-0 spurt just before the half.
Then the Toreros (22-14) went on an 18-2 run in the 2nd half, capped by Devin Ginty's 3-pointer that turned a lopsided game, 52-37, into a nail-biter.
Gyno Pomare kept San Diego alive, despite 17 turnovers and 4-of-15 shooting from downtown. But Pomare finished with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 9 rebounds.
The Hilltoppers shot 57% before the break, then finished at 48.1%.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.