NCAA Tourney – Wildcats’ Pursuit of Perfection ends in Indy

Article by Ricky Blair – Game Notes by UL Athletics – Indianapolis, Indiana – April 4, 2015 – Time runs out on Kentucky as the season comes crashing down with a 71-64 loss to Wisconsin in the Final Four semifinal game. Three shot clock violations in the last five minutes of the game kept the Wildcats from extending on a four-point lead at 60-56. Wisconsin, with new hope and a referee error on a missed shot clock violation by the Badgers, took advantage of the mistakes to tie the game 60-60 with 2:38 left in the contest. From that point forward Wisconsin outside scored Kentucky 11-4, coming mainly from the free throw line and finished off the upset of the number one, and previously unbeaten, Wildcats.

UK Stunned by Wisconsin - Photo by Tammie Brown
UK Stunned by Wisconsin – Photo by Tammie Brown

Kentucky came out of the gates ready to play and jumped to an early 5-0 lead with an Andrew Harrison three-pointer and a lob dunk basket by Willie Cauley-Stein. But the lead did not last long as Wisconsin steadily made shots and went up by as many as nine before the Cats could come racing back to tie the game going into the locker room at halftime 36 all. The Harrison twins were the story for the Wildcats in the first half as Andrew had 11 points and Aaron had 7. They were a combined 8 of 10 from the field in the opening 20 minutes and took advantage of the slower guards from Wisconsin by driving in for easy baskets. The first five minutes of the second half were all Wisconsin’s, as they built an eight- point lead. But then the Wildcats took back momentum and were able to chip away and eventually take the lead before the disastrous last five-minute shot clock violations.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wildcats in the loss with 16 points and 9 rebounds and Andrew and Aaron finished with 13 and 12 points respectively. But it just was not enough as poor execution down the stretch was the demise for this talented group of players who had previously been great at finishing off games. “Could not be more proud of this group of young people,” Coach John Calipari said after the game. “They took us on a ride. These kids wanted to win in the worst way,” he said. For most of the season they did win and win big. But pursuit of perfection is a hard thing and these Wildcats came up a couple of games short. A 38-1 record is something the fans should be proud of, but for now, it is dealing with the disappointment of not bringing home a title. “It really means nothing,” said UK freshman Tyler Ulis in talking about the 38 wins. Ulis and all the Wildcats wanted a National title. Unfortunately that dream has come to an end.

No. 1/1 Kentucky vs. No. 3/3 Wisconsin, Men’s Basketball – NCAA Tournament Semifinal

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind., April 4, 2015, Attendance: 72,238 

FINAL SCORE: Wisconsin 71, Kentucky 64

  • Team records: Kentucky is 38-1, Wisconsin is 36-3.
  • Kentucky leads the all-time series 4-2, including 2-1 in NCAA Tournament games. This was the second year in a row that UK and Wisconsin met in the national semifinals.
  • Kentucky ended its 38-game win streak, the longest win streak in school history and the first team in NCAA history to open a season 38-0.
  • With 38 wins, UK tied the record for the most wins in a season in NCAA Division I history. John Calipari’s 2008-09 Memphis team and the 2011-12 national champion Wildcats also won 38 games.
  • Kentucky is 215-28 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 60 of the last 63 games as the top-ranked Associated Press team.
  • Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 104-10 record as the top-ranked coach, including 63-5 at UK.
  • Calipari is now 190-38 (.833) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.

 

In the NCAA Tournament

  • Kentucky is in its 17th Final Four, tied for the second-most among all Division I teams.
  • Kentucky made consecutive Final Four appearances for the fourth time in program history. UK advanced to the national semifinals in 1948 and ’49, ’96-’98 and 2011 and ’12.
  • Kentucky has reached the Final Four in four of the last five seasons and in each of its last four NCAA Tournament appearances, all under John Calipari. Calipari, John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski are the only coaches to lead a team to the Final Four four times in a five-year period.
  • Kentucky is 120-48 (.714) all-time in the Big Dance, most wins by any school in tourney history.
  • Kentucky also leads the country in wins in the tournament since 2010 (22), when John Calipari first led UK to the Big Dance. UK is 22-4 in NCAA Tournament games under John Calipari.
  • Calipari is 47-15 (.758) in NCAA Tournament games, the highest winning percentage among active coaches.
  • Since 1992, the Wildcats are 119-33 (.783) in postseason play (NCAA, NIT and SEC).
  • Kentucky is 2-3 in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed playing a No. 1 seed.

 

Team Notes

  • Kentucky was 3 of 5 (60 percent) from 3-point range, the sixth time this season and second game in a row that UK made at least 50 percent of its 3-pointers.
  • Kentucky was 9 of 10 (90 percent) from the free throw line, the 12th consecutive game UK shot 70 percent or better from the charity stripe.
  • Kentucky hit 89 of 118 (.754) from the free throw line in the NCAA Tournament.
  • UK won bench points tonight, 12-8.  Kentucky won bench points in all but one game this season (vs. Arkansas in the SEC Tournament championship game).
  • Kentucky blocked four shots tonight, the 16th game in a row that the Wildcats had at least four rejections.

 

 

Game Facts

  • Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the 21st time this season.
  • Marcus Lee, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis and Dakari Johnson were UK’s first substitutions and entered the game at the 15:21 mark.
  • Kentucky’s streak of 939 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended when Andrew Harrison connected from long range on the first possession of the game.
  • Trailing 11-9, Wisconsin went on a 14-3 run for a 23-14 Badger lead.
  • Kentucky rallied and retook the lead at 36-34 before Wisconsin hit a shot to tie the game at halftime. It is the fourth time UK has been tied at halftime this season and second game in a row (also vs. Texas, at Georgia, vs. Notre Dame).
  • UK opened the second half with Ulis, Booker, Lyles, Towns and Cauley-Stein.
  • With UK leading 44-43, Wisconsin scored nine straight points to take a 52-44 lead.
  • Wisconsin went scoreless for six minutes and an 8-0 spurt gave UK a 60-56 lead.
  • At that point, however, UK went scoreless for over five minutes and Wisconsin had its own 8-0 run to go up 64-60.
  • Kentucky got within one with 56 seconds left, 64-63, on an Aaron Harrison bucket and foul shot but the Wildcats got no closer.
  • Wisconsin made seven of the last eight foul shots in the final 24 seconds to keep the Wildcats at bay.

 

Player Notes

  • Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wildcats with 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting and led the Wildcats with nine rebounds.
  • He scored double figures in 19 games this season.
  • He averaged 14.2 points in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Andrew Harrison had 13 points, marking his 17th double-figure scoring game this season. He also had a game-high four assists.
  • Aaron Harrison had 12 points. He has 24 double-figure scoring games this season.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein had two blocked shots, his eighth consecutive game with at least two rejections. He was second on the team with five rebounds.

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