Kentucky’s quest for 40-0 ended Saturday night with a 71-64 loss to Wisconsin, leaving the Wildcats and Big Blue Nation stunned and disappointed.
Kentucky held a four point lead with 6:37 remaining, but Wisconsin went on an 8-0 run that was highlighted by a controversial basket by Nigel Hayes with 2:35 to tie it and capped by a Sam Dekker step-back three pointer that put Wisconsin up 63-60.
And up for good.
Dekker made a free throw with 1:06 remaining, but Aaron Harrison answered with a three-point-play to bring the Wildcats within one at 64-63.
Two Frank Kaminsky free throws put the Badgers back up three before Karl Anthony-Towns went 1-for-2 at the free throw line. Bronson Koenig and Kaminsky padded the final margin with free throws as Kentucky was left shocked.
Four of Wisconsin’s five starters reached double-figures, led by Kaminsky with 20 points. Dekker finished with 16 and Nigel Hayes and Koenig each added 12.
Towns scored 16 for Kentucky, which attempted just 10 free throws on the night despite its size. The Harrison twins combined for 25 points, but just seven of Kentucky’s 26 shots were assisted on.
The biggest difference in the game was rebounding. Wisconsin out-rebounded Kentucky 34-22.
The Badgers move on to face Duke in Bo Ryan’s first ever NCAA Tournament Final. Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski is coaching his ninth.
The Wildcats face another off-season of turnover, as Calipari could lose as many as 10 players to the draft. Willie Cauley-Stein, Towns, Trey Lyles and the Harrison twins seem like givens. Dakari Johnson, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee and Tyler Ulis could turn pro as well. The injured Alex Poythress could also consider the move.