ARLINGTON, Texas — He did it again.
Aaron Harrison hit the three that put Kentucky ahead for good with 40 seconds left of a win over Louisville. He sent Kentucky to the Final Four, hitting a three with 2.3 seconds left to beat Michigan in the Elite 8. And on Saturday night, in front of a record crowd of just under 80,000 people at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Harrison did it again.
He hit a three with 5.7 seconds to put Kentucky ahead 74-73 and, after Traevon Jackson’s jumper bounced harmlessly off the rim, into the national title game against UConn.
“You got Aaron, The Assassin, making the shot that is the dagger,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said.
Alex Poythress phrased it just a bit differently. “He’s got some hangers,” Poythress said. “He’s got the biggest balls I’ve seen.” Andrew Harrison added, “They’re growing. We’re just glad he has those.”
Harrison finished with just eight points on the night. The three was the first shot that he had attempted from beyond the arc and it was just Kentucky’s second three-ball of the evening. The Wildcats executed their game-plan to perfection, pounding the ball inside and doing everything they could possibly do to allow their athletes to take over around the rim.
Julius Randle finished with 16 points while Dakari Johnson, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee combined for 22 points. In total, the Wildcats finished with 46 points in the paint, as everyone in a Kentucky jersey made a concerted effort to get the ball into the paint.
The offensive end of the floor isn’t the only place where Kentucky dominated the interior. Wisconsin’s star big man Frank Kaminsky, the man that was supposed to be the most difficult player to matchup with in college basketball, finished with just eight points and five boards on 4-for-7 shooting. But the Badgers actually did a pretty good job of getting the ball to the guys that they needed to. With all the attention on Kaminsky, Wisconsin’s shooters were able to take advantage of the space on the perimeter, hitting 8-for-20 from beyond the arc.
In the end, the difference in the game was Kentucky’s execution offensively. They did what they had to do to be able to beat the Badgers, which included protecting the ball. They committed just one turnover in the last 34:54 of the game, and they did not commit a turnover in the second half.
Sam Dekker and Ben Brust led the way for the Badgers with 15 points apiece.