West Virginia, ranked No. 1 nationally in steals and offensive rebounding, used its full-court press to force 23 Maryland turnovers and cashed in on 16 second-chance points. Sophomore forward Devin Williams led the Mountaineers with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Gary Browne chipped in with 14 points and five steals.
Top-seeded Kentucky (36-0) now awaits Bob Huggins' club. Tipoff is slated for 9:45 p.m. ET on Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio.
"I wish I could sit here and tell you we're definitely going to win. I can't do that," Huggins said. "But I can tell you we're not going to be scared."
"Since we started, we played the underdog role," said WVU senior guard Juwan Staten, who leads the team in scoring at 14.5 points per game this season. "They didn't think we'd get past Buffalo. We got past Buffalo. They didn't think we'd get past Maryland. We got past Maryland. I'm pretty sure nobody in the world thinks we're going to get past Kentucky besides the 1.2 million people in West Virginia. But we're going to keep doing what we do. And keep playing."
Kentucky will place a top priority on taking care of the basketball in this matchup. Fortunately for the Cats, they're one of the top teams in the tournament in that regard. In the last five games, guard Andrew and Aaron Harrison and Tyler Ulis have combined for 46 assists and only 14 turnovers. Ulis was particularly good in handling the full-court press of Arkansas in the SEC Tournament.
Huggins' club does not shoot the ball well (41.3 percent, 273rd nationally). It relies heavily on creating offense from the press and second-chance points.
And while WVU excels on the offensive glass, oddly, it is 339th nationally in defensive rebounding. Kentucky is also one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country, so second-chance points could loom large for both teams.
The Mountaineers and Wildcats are no strangers to NCAA Tournament meetings. In 2010, WVU upset UK 73-66 in the regional finals at Syracuse, N.Y., denying a team that featured future pros like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson a trip to the Final Four.
The next year, UK got a slight measure of revenge, beating the Mountaineers 71-63 in the Round of 32 at Tampa, Fla., en route to a Final Four appearance.