After 40 minutes of evenly-matched basketball, the last Elite Eight showdown between the Michigan Wolverines and the Kentucky Wildcats came down to which team had the ball last. Shooting with Caris LeVert in his face, freshman guard Aaron Harrison put up a shot from behind the arc with 4.3 seconds remaining that proved the difference in the 75-72 Kentucky victory at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Two years ago, Kentucky won the national championship. Not a single player remains from that team as the Wildcats prepare themselves for a trip to Dallas next weekend. With a thin roster short on experience and long on talent, John Calipari has coaxed his squad past defending national champion Louisville and last year’s losing finalist Michigan in successive rounds to reach the Final Four.
Four of Kentucky’s freshman would finish the game in double figures on the score sheet, with forward Julius Randle leading the way with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Michigan, with a veteran roster that returned most of the talent from last year’s Final Four run, opened the game with a 14-6 run and lead by as many as 10 points with five minutes remaining in the first half.
It would ultimately be the largest lead enjoyed by either team during the game, as the Wildcats turned on the offensive pressure and knotted the game at 37-37 at halftime. The two teams traded the lead back and forth through the entirety of the second half, momentum shifting by the minute. Each team had attempted 57 shots from the field when Harrison received the ball at the three-point line and unleashed the winner.
The victory by Kentucky completes the Final Four field, with the Wildcats squaring off against Wisconsin next Saturday for the right to play either Florida or Connecticut in the national championship.