With Kentucky trailing Wisconsin by two points and time running out in Saturday's second Final Four game, Aaron Harrison drilled his second game-winning three-pointer in less than a week, giving Kentucky a 74-73 win and a spot in Monday's national title game against the Connecticut Huskies.
The Badgers' Traevon Jackson missed a pull-up jumper on the other end, sealing the Wildcats latest heart-stopping win in this tournament. Kentucky's last four games have each been decided by five points or fewer.
Jackson had given Wisconsin a 73-71 lead with 16.4 seconds remaining by making the last two free throws of a three-shot foul that he drew by pump-faking and leaning into Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison, Aaron's brother. Jackson's lone miss was the first of the night from the free throw line by the Badgers and it gave Aaron Harrison the opening he needed to provide the winner for the third straight game. In the Sweet 16 against arch-rival Louisville he made a go-ahead three with 40 seconds remaining that put the Wildcats in front for good. Then in last Sunday's Elite Eight, Harrison broke a 72-all tie with Michigan by making a three-pointer with less than three seconds to go that also came from the deep left wing.
Harrison finished with just eight points against the Badgers and that fateful three-pointer that came on his only attempt from beyond the arc. James Young (17 points), Julius Randle (16 points) and Dakari Johnson (10 points) led the way offensively for the Wildcats. The Badgers, meanwhile, had four players score in double figures: Sam Dekker (15 points), Ben Brust (15 points), Jackson (12 points) and Bronson Koenig (11 points). Star center Frank Kaminsky, however, was held to just eight points.
Neither team led by more than three points in the final five minutes. Before that, though, it was a game of runs. After trailing by as many as nine in the first half, Kentucky made a late push to finish the period down just four, 40-36.
Dekker slowed the Wildcats' momentum briefly with a three-pointer to open the second half, but that didn't last long. Kentucky answered with a 15-0 run that began with a short jumper from Julius Randle. Then James Young scored four points in a row by hitting a basket, getting fouled, missing the free throw, grabbing his own rebound and scoring on a 15-foot jumper. Putback dunks from Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee followed, and the Wildcats' lead reached 51-43 before Wisconsin finally countered when Duje Dukan tipped in a miss by Kaminsky.
Dukan and Ben Brust would score the next 13 points for the Badgers, culminating in a three-pointer from Dukan that gave Wisconsin the lead again at the 11:51 mark. The Badgers' lead was as large as five points at 67-62 with 6:17 left in the game, but they could never put the Wildcats away. Alex Poythress got Kentucky within two at 69-67 on a dunk with 4:44 remaining and gave his team the lead at 71-69 with a layup two and a half minutes later. Kaminsky tied the score with his final basket of the night, a layup with 1:18 left.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Kentucky is just the second team to win four consecutive NCAA tournament games in which it trailed at halftime. The Wildcats were 2-8 in the regular season in games decided by five points or fewer, but they are 4-0 in the NCAA tournament.
(GIF source: @cjzero