(WAVE) - P.J. Washington returned to the court, made a key basket and block in the final minute and Tyler Herro knocked down a clutch three as #2 seed Kentucky held off #3 seed Houston (33-4) 62-58 on Friday night in a Midwest Region semifinal in Kansas City, Missouri.
Washington had missed the Cats last two games with a sprained foot.
“We don’t win today if he doesn’t play" John Calipari said. “He did not go through the shoot around today, his foot was bothering him.”
Washington didn’t start, but did play 26 minutes and had 16 points. He hit 6 of his 8 field goal attempts, including a jump hook with :57 seconds left. He missed the free throw that would have tied the game at 58, but made up for it with a block at the other end.
On the ensuing UK possession, Tyler Herro drilled a three-pointer :25 seconds left to give Kentucky a 60-58 lead. Herro finished with a team-high 19 points.
Washington said he was in pain after the game but felt a responsibility to play.
“I had to, I didn’t want to let my teammates down," Washington said. "I knew if I was in the game I feel like we had a chance to win so I just sucked it up and came out to play.”
Kentucky (30-6) will face Auburn (29-9) in the Midwest Region final on Sunday at 2:20 p.m. in Kansas City. The Tigers beat top seed North Carolina 97-80 on Friday night.
The Cats beat Auburn twice in the regular season, winning 82-80 at Auburn on January 19 and 80-53 in Rupp Arena on February 23. Auburn has won 11 in a row since that loss.