March Madness: Kentucky ends Wichita State's perfect season, mo - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

March Madness: Kentucky ends Wichita State's perfect season, moves on to Sweet 16

Posted: Updated:
Andrew Harrison scored 20 points, twin brother Aaron had 19 and Kentucky survived a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer by Fred VanVleet to knock off the undefeated Shockers with a 78-76 victory Sunday in the NCAA tourney. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Andrew Harrison scored 20 points, twin brother Aaron had 19 and Kentucky survived a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer by Fred VanVleet to knock off the undefeated Shockers with a 78-76 victory Sunday in the NCAA tourney. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — It took a program stocked with NBA prospects to finally end Wichita State's perfect run.

Andrew Harrison scored 20 points, twin brother Aaron had 19 and Kentucky survived a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer by Fred VanVleet to knock off the undefeated Shockers with a 78-76 victory Sunday in the NCAA tournament.

Julius Randle added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and James Young also had 13 points for the No. 8 seed Wildcats (26-10), who made a series of clutch free throws in the closing minutes to advance to the Sweet 16 in arguably the most captivating game of a thrilling first weekend.

Now, Big Blue Nation gets to jump right into another high-profile matchup: Louisville awaits in the Sweet 16 on Friday in Indianapolis. The Wildcats beat their bitter in-state rival in December.

Cleanthony Early scored 31 points and Ron Baker had 20 for the Shockers (35-1), who hadn't lost since last year's Final Four while taking an entire city — and state — on quite a ride.

Kentucky took the lead for good at 73-71 when Young knocked down a 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes to go. Early answered with a basket for Wichita State, and Andrew Harrison made two free throws for Kentucky. Baker banked in a 3-pointer and Randle made two more foul shots.

Early's two free throws with 9.8 seconds left got the Shockers within 77-76, and they still had a chance when Andrew Harrison missed the second of two free throws and Early got the rebound.

VanVleet raced up court and called timeout with 3.2 seconds left.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall drew up a play that had Tekele Cotton inbounding the ball to VanVleet, who took a shot from the top of the key. But the shot was wide the entire way, and it clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded and Kentucky began to celebrate.

The team full of blue-chip prospects had finally ended the blue-collared team's dream.

The Midwest Regional showdown came after an entertaining undercard matchup that saw Stanford knock off Kansas, and it lived up to every expectation.

Kentucky was successful early using its superior size, not only in the paint but also on the perimeter, where the 6-foot-6 Harrison twins dwarfed the 5-11 VanVleet. But after the Wildcats took a 19-15 lead midway through the half, Wichita State ramped up its trademark defense, forcing a series of turnovers and getting right back in the game.

VanVleet was the catalyst. On one sequence late in the half, he stripped Aaron Harrison and hit Early in transition, and he was fouled slamming over 7-foot Willie Cauley-Stein. Early converted the free throw as the shockers built a 37-31 lead at the half.

Early hit a 3-pointer right out of the locker room, too, to match the Shockers' biggest lead at 40-31. But VanVleet picked up his third foul moments later, and Kentucky took advantage of the Shockers missing their floor general by gradually pulling ahead.

The game remained a back-and-forth prizefight the rest of the way, neither team leading by more than five, each answering the other with clutch 3-pointers and pressure-filled free throws.

It only made sense that the game would come down to the final possession.

Follow Dave Skretta on Twitter @APdaveskretta

  • UAB SportsMore>>

  • UAB cruises to 48-10 win over Troy in season opener

    UAB cruises to 48-10 win over Troy in season opener

    Saturday, August 30 2014 10:29 PM EDT2014-08-31 02:29:34 GMT
    Cody Clements passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Jordan Howard rushed for two more in helping the University of Alabama-Birmingham beat Troy University 48-10 on Saturday.More >>
    Cody Clements passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Jordan Howard rushed for two more in helping the University of Alabama-Birmingham beat Troy University 48-10 on Saturday.
    More >>
  • Fans ready for start of football season

    Fans ready for start of football season

    Thursday, August 28 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-08-28 11:45:46 GMT
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.More >>
    For some people, tonight is just as exciting as Christmas Eve! Thursday kicks off the college football season. Many fans have been counting down the days.
    More >>
  • UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    UAB names Cody Clements starting quarterback vs Troy

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 3:13 PM EDT2014-08-26 19:13:29 GMT
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
    UAB will open the season with Cody Clements at quarterback. Clements, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California, beat out redshirt freshman Jeremiah Briscoe for the starting job.More >>
  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford loses to TCU, 48-14

    Samford loses to TCU, 48-14

    Sunday, August 31 2014 1:10 AM EDT2014-08-31 05:10:40 GMT
    Samford loses its season opener on the road to TCU...More >>
    Samford loses its season opener on the road to TCU...
    More >>
  • Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Samford coach Pat Sullivan will not travel with team to TCU

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 2:59 PM EDT2014-08-27 18:59:15 GMT
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
    Samford football coach Pat Sullivan will miss Saturday's season opener against TCU. The school announced that Sullivan has been advised against traveling by doctors while he recovers from offseason surgery."Unfortunately I will not be able to make the trip with my Samford team this weekend for our game against TCU," Sullivan said in a statement released through the school. "My doctors have advised me not to travel at this time due to a complication from a surgery earlier this year. We have an...More >>
  • No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    No. 8 Michigan State readies defense for opener against JSU

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-08-26 23:54:33 GMT
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.More >>
    Mark Dantonio cares more about how Michigan State plays than how many plays Jacksonville State can run with its fast-tempo offense in Friday's season opener for both teams.
    More >>