UConn 60, Kentucky 54: Wildcats Fall Short

Jamie Squire

Kentucky fell in a hole early and never could quite dig out.

UConn won the national championship by defeating Kentucky 60-54.

The Huskies owned the first half, looking a lot like they did for most of their game against Florida the other night. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright caused all kinds of havoc on the defensive end again, and the team shot well over 50% for most of the way. The lead stretched as high as 15, though UK would battle back and cut the lead to just four at halftime.

The defenses ruled for the early part of the second half, as the teams scored 10 points total in the first seven minutes. James Young got going and powered the offense for a while, including throwing down a thunderous dunk. As the half went along, it looked like UK would eventually pull away as UConn's lead eroded to one at 48-47 the under 8:00 TV timeout. The Huskies found their shooting stroke again, though, as Napier and Niels Giffey made back-to-back threes out of the break.

Napier and Boatright got back to locking down UK's guards, and the teams basically traded baskets the rest of the way. Down by six, UK missed a pair of threes inside the final 14 seconds. Aaron Harrison did take one of those from his favorite spot, by the way, but it was with a hand in his face. He couldn't win the game with another big shot down by six anyway.

Young ended up the high point man for UK with 20, while Julius Randle, who was in and out of the game at times with cramps, was the only other Wildcat in double digits with 10. Napier was the player of the game with 22 points, a shared team-high six rebounds, and three steals. The teams shot the same 31% from three, but UConn was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line while Kentucky was just 13-24.

The SEC had half of the teams in the Final Four, but neither of them was able to take home the title as both lost to UConn. Kentucky played a good game and lost to a good team tonight, but it had chances to win but just couldn't. It had defensive lapses at bad times, something that plagued the team all tournament long, and the misses from the free throw line will haunt the team's memories.

As always in the John Calipari era, we now say goodbye to a chunk of the team and await the new blood that will come in to replace it. This team may have fallen short, and while there won't be another one quite like it, don't expect the Wildcats to be down for long.

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