DALLAS – Aaron Harrison stepped back from his defender and launched a 3-pointer that found the bottom of the net and helped Kentucky advance in the NCAA Tournament.
This was the opening sentence of the Wildcats’ regional final victory over Michigan last week.
It happened again on Saturday.
Harrison once again hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds on Saturday night as Kentucky defeated Wisconsin 74-73 to advance to Monday night’s championship game against Connecticut.
The shot came from almost the same spot on the floor. Against Michigan, the game was tied.
On Saturday, the Wildcats trailed by two after Traevon Jackson hit 2 of 3 free throws to give the Badgers the lead.
Harrison knocked down the shot from deep on the left wing and the Wildcats survived a desperation bank shot by Jackson on the other end of the floor.
Jackson appeared as if he was going to take the Badgers into the championship game moments earlier. In a tie game, he pump faked a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired and drew a foul as he got his defender in the air.
Jackson missed one of the three attempts and it proved costly. Wisconsin finished 19-for-20 from the free-throw line, but that one miss meant Harrison’s shot gave Kentucky the lead instead of tying the score.
The game-winner was just Harrison’s first attempt of the game. The Wildcats finished 2 of 5 as a team from behind the arc.
James Young led Kentucky with 17 points. Julius Randle added 16 in the win. Kentucky scored 23 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. The Wildcats owned the paint all night. They scored 46 interior points to just 24 for Wisconsin.
Ben Brust and Sam Dekker each had 15 points for the Badgers. Jackson added 12 in the loss
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin’s offensive star in the tournament, scored eight points on 4 of 7 shooting.
Kentucky used a 15-0 run early in the second half to turn a 7-point deficit into a 51-43 lead. Wisconsin rallied back and led most of the final 10 minutes of the game.
The Wildcats advanced in part because they committed just four turnovers in the game and none after halftime.