LEMOND: Rondo lays it on the line for the seniors

This was the first NCAA tournament for freshman Rajon Rondo, but he knows the importance of what Hayes and Carrier has meant to the program.

The UK basketball players remembered what it was like. They remembered seeing Gerald Fitch crying at his locker. They remembered seeing Erik Daniels sitting motionless on the floor. They remembered the feeling of seeing their beloved seniors in despair after losing to U.A.B. last year in the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament. They remembered the pain. They didn't want that to happen this year. Kelenna Azubuike took it personal. As soon as the Wildcats had defeated Cincinnati, Azubuike went over to Chuck Hayes and Josh Carrier and said, "This one was for you!" "I told Chuck before the game that we were going to try to get this one for you, and that we don't want this to be your last game," Azubuike said. Patrick Sparks said the entire team played with Chuck and Josh in mind. "It's something we take very seriously as a team," he said. "We want to send them out right." This was the first NCAA tournament for freshman Rajon Rondo, but he knows the importance of what Hayes and Carrier has meant to the program.

"I gave it all I had for those two guys," Rondo said. "I don't want their last game to be a loss."

Rondo was the first person to reach Hayes after the final buzzer had sounded in UK's 69-60 win over Cincinnati, sending the Cats to the Sweet 16 in Austin, Texas, and said, "We're going to Texas, Chuck!"

"It means a lot," Hayes said. "It means the guys, you know, they care about all of the hard work I've put into this program, and what my goal is. There's not much more I can say about my teammates. They're a great bunch of guys to be around."

Now they get to hang around with Chuck and the boys down in Texas.


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