Robert Morris upset the Kentucky Wildcats 59-57 Tuesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament to bring an end to the reigning national champion’s season. The stunning loss caps off a disappointing season for coach John Calipari and his Wildcats, who lost six of their last 10 games to miss the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats received a No. 1 seed going into the NIT but had to play on the road if they wanted to make it to Madison Square Garden. Robert Morris came ready to play in front of their home crowd and led nearly the entire game.
The Colonials were led by sophomore Lucky Jones, who finished with 15 points and two rebounds against the Wildcats. Senior Russell Johnson was the only other Colonials player in double-figures, ending with 14 points and five rebounds.
Kentucky lost Nerlens Noel to a knee injury about midway through the season, which led to Kentucky’s fall out of the NCAA tournament. Last season, Kentucky won the Big Dance with the likes of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who went on to be picked first and second overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Six players in total were drafted out of Kentucky last season, making things difficult on Calipari. Since Calipari came to Kentucky in 2009, he has brought in All-American talent through recruiting, making a first round NIT loss almost impossible no matter who is on the court for the Wildcats.
Almost impossible ended up being just enough as the Colonials stunned the Wildcats Tuesday. Freshman Archie Goodwin led Kentucky with 18 points and seven rebounds but wasn’t able to finish off a comeback in the second half.
The Colonials led by as much as 13 points late in the game, but Kentucky stormed back only to fall short 59-57. Mark McFadden made two free throws in the final seconds for Robert Morris which sealed the win. Kyle Wiltjer had a chance to win it for the Wildcats with a three-pointer at the buzzer, but it bounced off the rim.
Robert Morris’ students stormed the court after Wiltjer’s missed three-pointer ended the game, as the Colonials advanced to the second round of the NIT. The Colonials will take on the winner of a match-up between No.4 Providence and No. 5 Charlotte on Wednesday.
Robert Morris won the Northeastern Conference regular season title outright but lost in the conference tournament to Mount St. Mary’s, crushing any dreams of receiving a bid to the NCAA tournament. The devastating loss is now being used as motivation for the Colonials, who came away with their biggest win in school history Tuesday. Robert Morris upset Kentucky in the first round of the NIT, but are the Colonials good enough to ride the momentum into the NIT finals?