Behind Courtney Lee's dazzling array of shots early and his clutch free throws late, the 12th-seeded Hilltoppers advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in 15 years with a 72-63 victory over No. 13 seed San Diego on Sunday.
Now comes the toughest test.
Western Kentucky (29-6) will face top-seeded UCLA in the West Region semifinals in Phoenix. The Hilltoppers can only hope their three senior guards -- Lee, Tyrone Brazelton and Ty Rogers -- will carry them through another round.
Lee finished with 29 points, including a 3-pointer that gave his team the lead for good with 6:17 left. Lee made six consecutive free throws in the final 34 seconds that sealed the victory.
Brazelton added 15 points for the Hilltoppers. Rogers, who hit the 26-footer at the buzzer in overtime to beat Drake in the first round, had a much quieter afternoon. He had five points, three rebounds and two assists.
Gyno Pomare had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Toreros (22-14), who overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half before fading in the closing minutes.
Devin Ginty's 3-pointer capped an 18-2 run that turned a lopsided game into a nail-biter with about 6 minutes to play.
Lee's 3-pointer came a few seconds after Ginty gave San Diego a 55-54 lead, the Toreros' first since going up 5-4 early.