Kentucky Basketball: Will Harrison Twins' Shot Selection Cost Cats Title?

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Kentucky Basketball: Will Harrison Twins' Shot Selection Cost Cats Title?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kentucky's Aaron Harrison has shot the Wildcats into Monday night's championship game against UConn.

He has carved a place out for himself in NCAA tournament history by hitting three game-deciding jumpers in a row. Few players at any level have the opportunity, let alone the ability, to pull off such a feat.

When coach John Calipari has drawn up plays down the stretch for his young team, he has repeatedly looked to his freshman shooting guard to pull the trigger with the game on the line.

Stepping back from his historic heroics, Harrison and his twin brother, Andrew, have had their ups and downs during their first March Madness.

There is no doubt about it: The 'Cats would be back home in Lexington if it were not for Aaron's game-saving accuracy.

However, they might not have needed him to come through in the clutch as often if the two Richmond, Texas, natives had used better judgment and been on target more consistently throughout the rest of the games.

A quick look at the past three games shows the unmistakable difference between the twins' shooting and that of the rest of the team.

Twins/Team Shooting Comparison
Louisville Michigan Wisconsin
Twins 7-of-24 (29.1%) 7-of-20 (35%) 7-of-22 (31.8%)
Rest of Team 17-of-31 (54.8%) 24-of-38 (63.1%) 22-of-36 (61.1%)
Total 24-of-55 (43.6%) 31-of-58 (53.4%) 29-of-58 (50%)

ESPN.com

From the Sweet 16 on, Aaron has been blistering from beyond the arc (8-of-14, 57.1 percent). With that said, he has only sunk two of his 15 two-point attempts (13.3 percent).

Andrew has shot a tepid 10-of-30 (33.3 percent) from inside the arc and 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from distance.

At times, the Harrisons' shot decisions are questionable. Occasionally, they take ill-advised shots early in a possession. Now and then, they force shots when they are fully covered. Every so often, they both appear to decide ahead of time that they are going to launch regardless of what may be going on in the 'Cats offense.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On the year, Sports-Reference.com indicates that Andrew has the lowest effective field-goal percentage (41.6) among the team's rotation players. Even though Aaron is Kentucky's best three-point threat, he is still only connecting on 36.1 percent of his shots from downtown.

Connecticut has proven in the NCAA tournament to be a much better defensive team than what it showed during most of the 2013-14 season.

It was relentless in challenging Florida's every move. It held the Gators to 38.8 percent shooting from the floor. Billy Donovan's crew misfired on all nine of its three-point attempts after Michael Frazier hit a three 10 seconds into the game.

When the Huskies beat Michigan State, they only allowed the Spartans to score six points in the paint. According to ESPN.com's coverage of this game, this was "14 fewer than their previous season low and the second fewest for any team in the past five NCAA tournaments."

According to USA Today's Dan Wolken, Kentucky will have to work hard to get open looks against Connecticut on Monday night in North Texas:

UConn made Michigan State a jump-shooting team. UConn turned Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin into a non-factor. And if UConn makes Kentucky a jump-shooting team, they'll likely head home with the title.

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For Kentucky to cut down the nets on Monday night, no one player has to have a career night. The Wildcats have more than enough weapons on the court and the bench to spread out the scoring load across multiple players.

The Harrisons' shot selection will either help or hurt Calipari's quest for a second NCAA title in three years and Kentucky's bid for a ninth national championship.

If the Twins stick to their strengths, they will help the Wildcats pull off a decisive win. If they force shots and put up ill-advised attempts, the Huskies could be the first No. 7 seed to win it all.

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