Recap: Wisconsin vs. Kentucky
Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Fittingly, it was a freshman who put Kentucky over the top again.
The same freshman, in fact, in almost the same spot.
Aaron Harrison knocked down another go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds and Kentucky beat Wisconsin 74-73 on Saturday night to reach the NCAA title game.
Harrison's shot from the high left side over Josh Gasser came with 5.7 seconds left and after Traevon Jackson went 2-for-3 on free throws at the other end -- Wisconsin's only missed foul shot of the game.
Jackson backed Harrison off with his dribble on the game's final play, but missed a pull-up jumper at the buzzer, touching off Kentucky's celebration.
"I think I got hit on my arm," said Jackson, a junior, "but once it was up I thought it had an opportunity to go in. It was shocking."
The Wildcats, seeking their second national championship in three years, will play Connecticut on Monday night at AT&T Stadium. The Huskies knocked off No. 1 overall seed Florida earlier Saturday.
James Young scored 17 points, Julius Randle had 16, Dakari Johnson scored 10, while Harrison and his twin brother Andrew combined for 17 points for Kentucky (29-10).
Freshmen all, they helped the Wildcats -- seeded No. 8 in the Midwest Region -- continue their rise from unfulfilling preseason No. 1 to within one victory of the program's ninth national championship.
Aaron Harrison also hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds of last Sunday's win over Michigan, knocking it down from the left side to give Kentucky its third Final Four berth in five seasons under John Calipari.
Against in-state rival and defending national champion Louisville in the Sweet 16, Aaron Harrison made a trey in the final minute to give the Wildcats the lead.
His shot Saturday came after his brother missed a 3 on the previous Kentucky possession.
"Coach told me he wanted me to take the shot," Aaron Harrison said, "so that gave me a lot of confidence."
Ben Brust and Sam Dekker scored 15 points apiece to pace Wisconsin (30-8) and leading scorer Frank Kaminsky finished with eight. The Badgers made the Final Four for the first time in coach Bo Ryan's 13 seasons.
"I'm extremely proud of these guys," said Ryan. "We've been on the other end of those and we know what it's like. It means we're done playing this season and I really loved coaching this team."
Wisconsin, which won the West Region as the No. 2 seed by knocking off No. 1 Arizona, took a two-point lead after Jackson pump-faked Andrew Harrison behind the 3-point line and drew a foul by leaning into him.
Jackson missed the first shot, then made the next two with 16.4 seconds left to set up Harrison's winner at the other end. The Badgers were 17-for-17 on foul shots until that point.
Kentucky might have squeaked into the title game, but this is where many saw the Wildcats headed after Calipari's influx of talented freshman painted an optimistic outlook for a team that not only missed the NCAA Tournament last year, but was knocked out of the NIT in the first round by Robert Morris.
Connecticut did them a favor. The Wildcats are 8-2 in their last 10 games -- with both losses coming against Florida.
"We're definitely not satisfied," said Randle, who is from nearby Dallas.
Wisconsin had a nine-point lead in the first half and was up 40-36 at the break. Kentucky then used a 15-0 run early in the second half to take an eight-point lead.
The Badgers led by five with six minutes remaining after missing just one shot in their last 10 but Kentucky sophomore Alex Poythress put exclamation points on a Kentucky surge, first with a two-handed dunk on Dekker and then with an alley-oop layup from Andrew Harrison.Game Notes
The Wildcats were again without 7-foot sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein, who
remained out after spraining his ankle against Louisville ... Kentucky is 8-3
in the national final, last winning in 2012 with No. 1 draft pick Anthony
Davis ... It was Wisconsin's first Final Four game since 2000. The Badgers'
only national championship came in 1941.