The Kentucky Wildcats' stay in the 2016 NCAA Tournament was a short one, as the team fell in the second round against Indiana 73-67.
The Wildcats' offense was never totally in sync, partially due to Indiana's defense and partially due to its own struggles. Jamal Murray had a poor first half by his standards, scoring just five points and picking up a pair of offensive fouls. Not much else went the Hoosiers' way before the break though, as they appeared disjointed as well and eventually lost Robert Johnson to injury. Despite that fact, UK never built up much of a lead and actually went into the half down by a point.
The teams continued to be locked in a battle for much of the second half, but Kentucky's players not named Jamal Murray or Tyler Ulis didn't contribute enough. In the game's final ten minutes, Murray and Ulis scored a combined 16 points while the rest of the team got just five total points. It wasn't for a lack of trying; they just couldn't make shots.
IU went on a 17-4 run that ended up with the Hoosiers leading by ten at 62-52 with 4:12 to go. Isaiah Briscoe ended the run with a three point play, and Ulis score eight between the 1:07 and 0:36 marks to cut the lead down to three points. Indiana's Thomas Bryant made just one-of-two from the line on the next possession, and Alex Poythress made a pair of his own to cut the deficit to two with 11 seconds left. Bryant then made two free throws, Murray missed a three, and Yogi Ferrell iced it with two more foul shots with two ticks left.
UK put everything on Murray and Ulis. They shot a combined 17/38 (44.7%), while the rest of the team went 7/19 (36.8%) from the field. Ulis finished with 27 points, while Murray had 16. Murray's poor shooting night from downtown—he made only one of his nine attempts—was a key factor in the loss.
For the first time since 2004, a John Calipari team made the tournament but didn't advance to the second round. Kentucky was an inconsistent team that had flashes of brilliance but lacked the top-to-bottom depth and balance that other recent Wildcat teams did. As always, some of these guys will be off to the NBA while new ones come in to replace them. It's the Wildcat circle of life, and it's beginning a little earlier this time.