ARLINGTON, Texas —Traevon Jackson had a good look, a great chance to extend one of the best seasons in the history of Wisconsin basketball.
But Jackson's jumper bounced off the rim as time expired, allowing eighth-seeded Kentucky to escape the No. 2 Badgers 74-73 in a Final Four game Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
For the third consecutive game, the Wildcats' Aaron Harrison knocked down the clutch shot, this time a three-pointer with 5.7 seconds left, to set the final score.
ANALYSIS: What led to Kentucky's big victory
Wisconsin won't play for its first national championship in 73 years. Instead its year, culminating in the first Final Four appearance under Bo Ryan, ends at 30-8.
"Well, I think I got hit on my arm, but I thought once it was out of my hands I thought it had a chance to go in," said Jackson, the junior guard who finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. "But at that point when I saw it didn't go in, it just was a shock more than sadness. ... You make some, you miss some."
Badgers standout junior center Frank Kaminsky, a mainstay in the run to the Final Four, was held to eight points and five rebounds. Kaminsky came in averaging 18.5 points, six rebounds and seven blocks for the tournament.
"I thought Dakari (Johnson) could play him some," Wildcats coach John Calipari said. "Dakari could put that big body on him a little bit. Then we wanted to play all kinds of different people on him. We wanted Alex (Poythress) to guard him some, we wanted Julius (Randle) to guard him some."
The rotation proved effective.
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ANALYSIS: What led to UConn's huge win
Senior guard Ben Brust and sophomore forward Sam Dekker led Wisconsin with 15 points apiece.
The loss stung for Brust in his final college game.
"Just shocked right now," Brust said. "We did a pretty good job putting ourself in a position to win. I've seen Traevon make that shot before to win a game, and we got a good look and unfortunately it didn't go down."
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Freshman guard Bronson Koenig gave the Badgers an unexpected lift in the first half as they built a 40-36 lead. Koenig, who had averaged just 15.3 minutes and 3.3 points coming in, had 11 points over the first 20 minutes. Dekker had 12 points in the half, making all eight of his free throw attempts. The Badgers made all 14 of their chances from the line over that span.
Wisconsin set a Final Four record by knocking down 19 of 20 free throws. It was the one the Badgers missed that proved pivotal.
The Wildcats (29-10) stepped on the gas to open the second half, mounting a 15-0 run to seize the lead behind James Young (17 points, five rebounds) and Randle (16 points, five rebounds). Seven of their points in that stretch came on offensive rebounds. Kentucky outboarded Wisconsin 32-27 on the night.
The Badgers countered with a 13-4 run of their own to take the lead at 56-55 on a Duje Dukan three-pointer with 11:30 remaining.
"The bench picked us up," Ryan said. "Some guys made some plays. We got some stops. That's the only way you can come from behind. You're still trying to get to the free-throw line. You're trying to get fouls on guys, trying to get other players to the bench from the other team. We didn't do a great job of that. But we have had runs in games that were positive 10, 12, whatever and come up on the short end. So it isn't anything automatic. I just think that our guys are pretty resilient. So they didn't let that change the way they played."
After a Poythress layup put Kentucky up 71-69 with 2:17 left, Kaminsky drove to the basket and tied it with 1:18 left.
Jackson was fouled on a three-point attempt with 16 seconds left. He made two of three shots, leaving the door open for Harrison's big shot.
"(Harrison) stepped up and he made the play when his team needed it," Brust said. "Overall, we had done a good job, but at that point I think they were one-of-four from three and he made a clutch shot and he's done that before. So got to tip your cap to him for making a clutch three."
The Badgers' third Final Four appearance and first since 2000 ended in disappointment. The season, which included a 21-game winning streak and a second-place finish in the Big Ten, is over.
"I'm extremely proud of these guys," Ryan said. "When it comes down to a one-possession game, the last possession's always seemed so magnified. But there was 60, 70, 80 possessions in there and a lot of those ended up being the possessions that were more crucial. We just came up one short.
"We have been in the other end of those and we know what it's like. It's hard. It means we're done playing for the year. I really love coaching this team. I knew they had something in them it was just trying to get it out of them sometimes that was a little bit of a challenge. But they answered it. They answered everything. And that's how we got here."
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