By Rick Blair – March 28, 2015, Cleveland, Ohio
These Cats have nine lives and they used one of them to come from behind and defeat Notre Dame 68-66 in the closing seconds of Saturday’s Midwest Regional Final. After trailing most of the second half, the Wildcats did not miss a shot in the final ten minutes of the game. Freshman Center Karl-Anthony Towns was unstoppable as he made all eight of his shots in the closing half and scored a game high 25 points in leading the Wildcats to the two-point win. Towns’ was not alone in making big plays down the stretch.
Freshman guard Tyler Ulis hit a three-pointer with the Wildcats trailing by six with six minutes to go in the game. Aaron Harrison who hit several big threes on UK’s magical run the championship game last year, came through again when he nailed a long three-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead with three minutes left in the contest. But Notre Dame would not go away easily and the Irish regained the lead. After Towns tied the game win one minute left, it was defense and Willie Cauley-Stein who blocked Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant’s three-point attempt that set up the final heroics.
Only 33 seconds remained in the tied tension filled game, as Sophomore Andrew Harrison held the ball, looking for the clock to count down. With about eight seconds remaining in the game Harrison drove to the basket and was fouled. Having the pressure of a trip to the Final Four hanging in the balance, Harrison calmly knocked down both free throws and clinched a trip to Indianapolis and a spot in the Final Four for a second consecutive year. Notre Dame had one last attempt, but the shot fail harmlessly to the ground and the celebration began. Nine appears to be a special number for these Wildcats. In addition to the nine lives, the Wildcats went nine for nine from the field in the last ten minutes of the game and are seeking to make it number nine, when it comes to the schools number of NCAA national championship banners that are hanging from the Rupp Arena rafters. The Wildcats will take on the Wisconsin Badgers this coming Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Final Four semi-final contest won by the Cats 74-73. Kentucky is now 38-0 on the season and are going to their fourth Final Four appearance in the last five years.