Kentucky's Malik Monk (5) is chased by Northern Kentucky's Carson Williams (23) and Dantez Walton (32). The Wildcats outscored the Norse 15-3 the rest of the half, and they were in control until the closing flurry.
The Northern Kentucky University Norse will take the University of Kentucky at approximately 10 p.m.at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Freshman guard D'Aaron Fox led United Kingdom with 19 points. Bam Adebayo had 15 points and 18 rebounds and Isaiah Briscoe scored 17 points.
Making its first appearance in the tourney, Northern Kentucky, the Horizon League Tournament champion, finished the season at 24-11 under John Brannen, a former assistant coach at Alabama and Eastern Kentucky University.
N KY's offense revolves around the overall play of big man Drew McDonald. The victor will play Wichita State on Sunday, which beat Dayton 64.58. Kentucky is 0-1 against Dayton and 1-0 against Wichita State in the all-time series.
"After hearing the offer to support their local team, it occurred to us that Lexington's hometown steakhouse should step up to the plate with a steak for every United Kingdom student and faculty member, if the Cats win the title", co-founder of Lexington-based Bluegrass Hospitality Group Bruce Drake said in a news release.
Northern Kentucky's pep band played "My Old Kentucky Home" when the game ended. I could go on and on about what keeps you up at night. Holland threw down a highlight reel slam dunk in the first half.
The Wildcats will face Wichita State in a second-round game here on Sunday in a rematch of their exciting second-round game in 2014, which Kentucky won, 78-76, against a then-undefeated Shockers team that included future Knicks Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker. Bench points were 6-0.