Wisconsin deals death blow to UK

of the Kentucky Wildcats during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, In. Photo by Jonathan Krueger

By Joshua Huff

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Just imagine spending an entire summer’s day longing for that particular ice cream bar that you love. The day passes and as the clock ticks down to the hour when the ice cream truck’s supposed to come, you see no sign of it. It never shows.

As it turns out, Wisconsin stole the ice cream truck from out under UK’s nose.

The buildup, the anticipation, the nearness of history dangled tantalizing close to a UK team that entered the NCAA Tournament with an “itself against the field mentality.”

Check the box marked field.

Wisconsin redeemed last year’s Final Four loss to UK with an impressive come-from-behind 71-64 victory Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Though Wisconsin had to fight its way back in the late minutes of the game, the entirety never felt like UK had full control.

“You have to give Wisconsin credit,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “They did to us what we have done to teams.”

What UK does to teams is what it did to the Badgers in the opening seconds of the game, score quick and in doses. Wisconsin, however, never wilted. Each time UK roared back, tying the game or taking the lead, the Badgers responded. Down four with less than seven minutes left, Wisconsin clamped down on UK and relied on its ability to shoot high-percentage shots. A brilliant minute-long span by Sam Dekker culminated in a dagger three over Karl-Anthony Towns to put Wisconsin ahead by three, the final lead of the game.

“Off my hand I knew it was down,” Dekker said. “I was waiting for a good look like that all night.”

Dekker’s opportunity to put Wisconsin ahead in the waning minutes was because of UK’s what-are-you-thinking three straight possessions where the Cats had three consecutive shot-clock violations. Had UK scored on those possessions, Dekkers’ three would have only put a dent in the lead, not seal the win.

“We didn’t execute as a team,” Andrew Harrison said. “Me being the point guard, I didn’t do what the coach told me on a couple of occasion.”

“He did fine,” Calipari jumped in. “You did fine.”

Harrison did do fine in the first half. His brother, Aaron, and himself carried UK in the first half even though UK was outshooting the Badgers. It was the offensive rebounds and the hustle plays in the second half, however, that crippled the Cats.

“We didn’t execute down the stretch,” Calipari said. “That comes back to me. I’ll take responsibility. You know, there were things we were trying to do. Maybe we shouldn’t have done. “

It was in the final minutes that sealed UK’s fate. A period where UK learned how it felt to be on the other side of momentum.

“They crowded a little bit,” Calipari reflected on the 60-56 lead UK had with six minutes remaining in the game. “The guys got a little bit tentative. We were trying to still play. The thing that was tough is we are a finishing team, that’s what we’ve been, and we didn’t. They did and we didn’t. That’s why they’re still playing and we’re not.”

With the loss, it remains to be seen as to who comes back and who leaves. But, regardless of who leaves and who stays, the players will be thinking back on the day that Wisconsin stole that mouth-watering bar of ice cream from under their nose.

40 and 0 has become 38 and done.

Final Notes


Frank Kaminsky ended the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds

Nigel Hayes had 12 points and five rebounds

Sam Dekker scored 16 points with three rebounds and shot 2-for-3 from three


Karl-Anthony Towns scored 16 points and had nine rebounds

Andrew Harrison had 13 points and two rebounds

Aaron Harrison ended up with 12 points and three rebounds

Trey Lyles scored nine points

Willie Cauley-Stein scored two points, all within the first seconds of the game