Rick Campbell scored 19 points and Middle Tennessee overcame several missed free throws in the stretch to upset 15th-ranked Kentucky, 50-44, in an NCAA Mideast Regional first-round game tonight.
In the first game, Steve Bouchie and Ted Kitchel each scored six consecutive points in the first five minutes as Indiana routed Robert Morris College, 94-62.
Indiana will play No. 17 Alabama-Birmingham in the second round Saturday. Middle Tennessee's victory moves the Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion into a second-round game Saturday with No. 20 Louisville, which had a bye.
Many had thought Saturday's game would be the first between Kentucky and Louisville in 23 years, but Middle Tennessee ended that possibility with a well-played control game.
"It's hard to believe they were looking beyond us," said Middle Tennessee Coach Stan Simpson, who added: "Maybe we were looked upon as a sacrificial lamb. That lamb turned into a raging bull tonight."
The Blue Raiders (22-7) led, 44-40, with 12:30 remaining and went into a control offense each time they had the ball.
Kentucky (22-8) got a number of chances, but the Wildcats were unable to score from the field and MTSU dominated the boards.
Charles Hurt cut the lead to 44-42 on a six-footer with 5:22 remaining, ending a scoreless period that covered 7:44 for the Wildcats.
Middle Tennessee missed five free throws in the final minutes, but Jerry Beck (14 points), the OVC player of the year, made one foul shot to give his team a 47-42 lead with 1:11 left. Kentucky scored only once more the rest of the way, a basket in the final 25 seconds.
"They played hard, they controlled the boards, they were much more into the game mentally than we were and deserved to win," said Kentucky Coach Joe B. Hall.
"Certain things happen that cause you to lose heart," he added. "Shots weren't falling well, your defense is soft, pretty soon you lose concentration--lose heart."
The Blue Raiders committed five turnovers and had their only field goal attempt blocked as Kentucky surged to an 8-0 lead in the first 3 1/2 minutes.
The Raiders settled down, tied the game at 16 and went ahead, 28-26, on Beck's three-point play three minutes before halftime. Kentucky never led again, although the Wildcats tied the score five other times.
Indiana, the defending national champion, led by 40 points when Coach Bob Knight pulled his starting team with 12 minutes left.