The Kentucky Wildcats couldn’t hit a shot from the field, three, or the free throw line on Saturday night against the Connecticut Huskies, but they still had a chance to win the game with 18 seconds to go.
UK coach John Calipari called a time-out to set up a play. Either it was a horrible play call or DeAndre Liggins thought it would be smart to throw up a contested three with 7 seconds left in the game. Naturally, the shot ricocheted off the side of the rim to Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier, who was immediately fouled.
Napier went to the free throw line where he made both free throws to push the UConn lead to 56-52 to seal the game.
The Wildcats inbounded the ball the length of the court where Kentucky’s Brandon Knight hit a three at the buzzer to make the final score, 56-55.
Kentucky likely would be playing for the National Championship on Monday if they had been able to hit shots down the stretch. The Wildcats, in typical Coach Cal fashion, bricked free throw after free throw, only hitting 3-12 from the charity stripe. They shot 33.9% from the field and 33.3% from 3-point (9-27).
Knight led the Kentucky brickage by making just 6 of 23 shots (3-11 from 3-point). However, he did lead Kentucky with 17 points and 8 assists. Doron Lamb added 13.
The Huskies won despite 15 turnovers. Kentucky’s defense gave them fits throughout most of the game. As bad as Kentucky shot the ball, they still were only beat by a single point. If they could have hit 2 more free throws or another shot then they would have advanced.
Solid shooting from UConn helped compensate for their turnovers. The Huskies free throw shooting secured the game in the final minute.
Huskies star Kemba Walker was not much better than Knight shooting the ball (6-15). He scored 18 points to go with 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Jeremy Lamb added 13 for UConn.
The Huskies will play the Butler Bulldogs on Monday night for the NCAA Championship.