It wasn’t West Virginia all over again, but some Kentucky fans may have felt that way against Connecticut.
The Wildcats made nine of 27 shots from beyond the arc in their 56-55 loss to UConn Saturday night, but seven makes came in the second half – and one set up Kentucky for its biggest miss.
But first, the good.
Down 10 at halftime, the ‘Cats made four of their first five 3-point attempts, all in the first five minutes of the second half. It turned a 31-21 deficit into a 35-33 Kentucky lead and completely changed the momentum despite UConn’s best efforts to prevent it.
“We ran them off of the 3-point line. We talked a lot about that,” Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. “The big guys helped out early and got that 10-point lead. I felt very comfortable except for the rebounding. Then the second half they came out and made four straight. Now we’re in a whole different kind of ballgame.”
But once Doron Lamb hit his third 3 of the game with 11:23 left – tying the game at 42-42 – Kentucky went cold from deep. It missed three straight in an 80-second span and allowed UConn to settle in on defense. The ‘Cats then went five minutes without a made field goal until DeAndre Liggins finally hit a 3 with just under two minutes left.
Again, it was good and bad.
Liggins had missed his three previous attempts, but this one cut UConn’s lead to 54-51. Liggins, rightfully, was optimistic.
“I mean, when I hit that 3, I gave my team a chance to win,” he said.
The bad part? It gave Liggins a little too much confidence in his stroke.
A UConn turnover with 18 seconds remaining gave Kentucky the ball. After a timeout, it set up a play for Brandon Knight to create a shot or create for someone else. When UConn stopped him, he dished to Lamb on the far right wing. His shot badly missed and that was it. Game over.
“I should have drove it. But I hit a three and I got fouled and I made a shot and I thought I had the hot hand a little bit,” he said. “It was a good shot, but it fell short.”
Those 3s. They got Kentucky back into the game, only to seduce the ‘Cats at the wrong time.
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