KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For someone who wasn't sure to play until shortly before tipoff, PJ Washington had a huge role for Kentucky in its Sweet 16 victory over Houston.
Washington, Kentucky's leading scorer and rebounder in the regular season, didn't Started 26 minutes and scored 16 points as Kentucky. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional, outlasted Houston 62-58.
"It kind of started hurting in the second half, but I just suffered through it," said Washington, who added he took painkillers before the game. 'm definitely going to get some treatment after this and get a good night's sleep.'
Kentucky beat Auburn by 27 the last time the two played. The Tigers haven't lost since that Feb. 23 meeting.
Tyler Herro hit a 3-pointer with 25.8 seconds left to give Kentucky the lead after Houston had double-digit lead, and the Wildcats escaped their NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal with a 62-58 win over Houston Friday night.
The Wildcats will play fifth-seeded Auburn on Sunday at the right to advance to the Final Four.
"It's good to have PJ back," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "We don't win the game today without him. What he did and the presence he adds to the game and his ability to pass and do different things and you're not going to him. You're not going to. It's not going to happen. ''
Washington spelled his foot in the SEC tournament and didn't play in the Wildcats' NCAA tournament victories about Abilene Christian and Wofford. He had this week and resumed practicing Thursday, but it wasn't until late until game time against Houston.
"How we got through last weekend without him, I have no idea," Calipari said. "If you take the best player off any team in the NCAA tournament, you're not going to be the same. We just happened to survive." '