Kentucky was a dollar short against Wisconsin Saturday night, losing to the Badgers 71-64 and thus ending their quest for an undefeated season.
The Wildcats record will stand at 38-1.
Kentucky was looking to become the first team since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers to finish the season without a loss.
“Could not be more proud of this group of young people. What they did all year, just took us all on a ride, our staff, our school, our state,” said Kentucky’s head coach John Calipari after the game. “We all wanted to win those last two. These kids wanted to win it in the worst way. But you have to give Wisconsin credit. They did to us what we have done to teams.”
Wisconsin played with grit and determination; even when they had gone almost seven minutes without a basket they never gave up.
“When we got down four, we just kept battling on every possession,” said head coach Bo Ryan during the post game conference. “These guys just gutted it out. I told them, I'll hang out on the sideline for 40 minutes Sunday night. So here we are.”
With 8:29 to go in the game Kentucky’s Karl Anthony Towns scored on a lay up to tie the game at 56, the Wildcats took a 4 four-point lead, but could not put the game away.
Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes tied the game at 60 with 2:35 to go then Sam Dekker scored a three-pointer with 1:44 left and that was it; the Badgers never relinquished the lead.
Calipari credits Wisconsin’s’ rebounding effort in the win.
“We had six turnovers for the game. We shot 90% from the free-throw line, 60% from the three, and 48% from the field, and we lost? What does that mean they did? We struggled to guard them. They shot 47, 48 also. But it was the rebounding and the toughness and the plays around the goal. They made and-ones and we didn't.”
Wisconsin will play Duke on Monday for the National Championship. Duke beat Michigan State 81-61.