August 22, 2014

Badgers fall to Kentucky on late three

Kentucky freshman guard Aaron Harrison has been there before.  He nailed a last second three-point basket in the Elite 8

AT&T Stadium

AT&T Stadium

matchup against Michigan to give the Wildcats a 75-72 win over the Wolverines.  Saturday night, Harrison did it again, this time with Kentucky trailing Wisconsin by two points.  His three gave the Wildcats a 1-point lead with 5.7 seconds left to play and an eventual 74-73 victory over the Badgers and a spot in Monday night’s championship game against Connecticut.

The Badgers had a chance to win it after a timeout.  The inbound pass went to Traevon Jackson who rushed up court and got a shot off from about 17 feet on the left-wing.  It was just off the mark and sent the Wildcats into celebration mode.

For the Badgers (30-8), their dream of an NCAA Championship was gone.  They struggled stopping Kentucky when the Wildcats took the ball to the basket.  They gave up penetration and then second chances.  Yet Wisconsin was right in the thick of things.

Wisconsin led much of the way, thanks to near perfect free throw shooting (19-20) and the solid bench contributions from freshman Bronson Koenig  (11 pts) and junior forward Duje Dukan (8 pts).

Koenig’s play was especially big when Traevon Jackson picked up his second foul with nearly 12-minutes left in the first half.  Koenig played the rest of the first half and more than held his own against the high-flying Kentucky Wildcats.

James Young scored 17 points and Julius Randle 16 for Kentucky (29-10).  Sam Dekker and Ben Brust had 15 points each to lead the Badgers.

Junior forward Frank Kaminsky was held to two points in the first half, but the rest of the Badger rotation picked up the slack.  Wisconsin took a 40-36 lead into the locker room at halftime.  After Sam Dekker opened the second half with a three-pointer to give the Badgers a 43-36 lead, Kentucky went on a 15-0 run.  It was literally the only point in the game where Kentucky’s bigger, stronger interior players looked as if they would take over and not give in.

But the Badgers answered with a 15-4 run of their own, led by the play of Duje Dukan.

Wisconsin had a couple of costly turnovers down the stretch and it may have prevented them from being the team getting ready to face U-Conn on Monday night.  But Wisconsin’s run will still be one that will be remembered.  And with Ben Brust being the only significant contributor that will depart because of graduation, Badger fans are already looking forward to seeing what Bo Ryan and company can do next season.  The future certainly looks bright.