In the game pitting the Kentucky Wildcats versus the Wisconsin Badgers, perfection was in sight. However, the Badgers would have none of it.
ESPN is reporting that Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky, on his 22nd birthday, scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to squash Kentucky’s dream of a perfect season, as the Badgers beat the Wildcats, 71-64. Wisconsin advances to its first NCAA championship game since 1941 to face the Duke Blue Devils, who earlier dispatched Michigan State 81-61.
Along with Kaminsky’s 20, Sam Dekker added 16 points, while Nigel Hayes and Brandon Koenig each contributed 12 points each.
Kentucky goes home at 38-1, trying to join the 1975 Indiana Hoosiers as the only teams to complete an undefeated season as NCAA champions.
Wisconsin scored the eight straight points to take a four-point lead with 1:06 left. Kaminsky, the AP Player Of The Year, and Brandon Koenig went a combined 7 for 8 from the free throw line to seal Kentucky’s fate.
Kentucky showed great resolve, according to Yahoo! Sports. The Wildcats overcame an eight-point deficit in the first half, and a nine-point deficit during the second half to stay in the game.
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin guard, hit a three-pointer late in the game for the Badgers to take a 63-60, a lead that the Badgers would not relinquish.
The Kentucky supporters could not believe the result. All year long, the Wildcats found a way to come from behind to win games to get to 38-0 into today’s semifinal game. It also seemed like Wisconsin was gassed near the end, but, as champions do, they found a reserve and it carried them through to the end and the victory.
One action that will come into further focus by the NCAA were the actions of Kentucky players Willie Cauley-Stein and Andrew Harrison. After the game ended, with Wisconsin celebrating and Kentucky contemplating, Cauley-Stein and Harrison both left the court without participating the handshake lineup at the end of the game to congratulate Wisconsin on their hard-fought victory.
CBS Sports is reporting that Wisconsin’s victory gains a measure of revenge for Kentucky’s one-point victory in the NCAA Basketball tournament semifinal from last year. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan will be going to his first Division I NCAA basketball tournament final. While coaching at Division III University of Wisconsin-Plattville, Ryan won four titles.
The game lived up to its billing as a fast-paced, over-the-rim contest where the underdog Badgers and favored Wildcats played their best. Today, that means Wisconsin moves on, and Kentucky, and its perfect season, is history.
[Image courtesy of Guardian L.V.]