Wisconsin upsets Kentucky to end Wildcats’ hopes for perfect season


INDIANAPOLIS — Kentucky is unbeaten no more.

Wisconsin exacted revenge for last season’s Final Four loss by defeating the Wildcats 71-64 to end Kentucky’s run at a perfect season at 38-1.

The Badgers used a late 15-4 rally following a four-point deficit with four minutes left to pick up the win.

Sam Dekker is the guy who will be getting the headlines, as he dropped 16 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:44 left to give them the Badgers the lead they wouldn’t relinquish and huge taken charge with a little bit over a minute left to hand the Badgers the ball back to consolidate the lead. Frank Kaminsky led the way with 20 points, including seven during the first three minutes of the second half where Wisconsin dominated the Wildcats and stretched out a lead to eight points.

But Kentucky came fighting back, only allowing one Wisconsin field goal from the 14:45 mark to the 4:45 mark when a Dekker jumper ended the drought. During that drought, Wisconsin stuck around only due to killer defensive play, including three consecutive Kentucky trips that ended in shot clock violations.

Wisconsin’s 1.25 points-per-possession in this game were the most any team had scored against the Wildcats this season. The Badgers took advantage of Kentucky’s decision to switch every screen, continually exploiting mismatches on the block and in space to get easy looks at the rim. The Wildcats’ length was not nearly the factor it was against most teams this season, as the Badgers knocked down 7-17 attempts from 3 (41 percent) and made 48 percent of their shots overall. There was no amount of fear from the Badgers, who just simply played their game and took it to the Wildcats.

The two teams lived up to their billings in the first half, as it was an up-and-down, terrific 20 minutes that saw Wisconsin lead by as many as nine after nearly scoring an absurd 1.3 points per possession and only allowing one Wildcat offensive rebound. However, Kentucky was equally as up to the task on the offensive end, matching them as Andrew Harrison relentlessly attacked Wisconsin’s defense and ended up with 11 points. He also dished out three assists, two of which led to easy dunks. The Wildcats closed the half on a 22-13 run to go into the half tied and set up a manic final 20.

Wisconsin will now face Duke in a rematch of an early season game that saw the Blue Devils beat the Badgers in Madison 80-70.

Sam Dekker (USATSI)
Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker drives to the basket vs. Kentucky on Saturday. (USATSI)


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