March Madness: Kentucky's Magical Run Ends in Final Four

Orly Rios Jr.Analyst IIApril 3, 2011

Kentucky shot just 34% from the field and finished 4 of 12 from the free throw line.
Kentucky shot just 34% from the field and finished 4 of 12 from the free throw line.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Kentucky wasn't on anyone's radar when it came to filing out the March Madness brackets.

Not by a long shot.

Most people predicted them to lose to Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen, but instead, brackets were busted after Kentucky won 62-60.

Most people then thought North Carolina was too much for the young Wildcats, and once again, brackets were busted in Kentucky's 76-69 win.

Finding themselves in the Final Four against the red hot Connecticut Huskies led by junior point guard Kemba Walker, suddenly, the Wildcats found themselves the favored not only to win the game, but also to take the National Title back to Lexington.

All tournament long, Kentucky played with poise and resilience. Their man-to-man defense against Ohio State shut down the Buckeye point guards to a combined 2 of 23 shooting from the field.

Against North Carolina, the Wildcats hit big shots and went three point crazy, hitting 12 in total, en route to a 76-69 win.

All the big shots, key defensive plays, adjustments, unsung heroes and momentum ended Saturday night in Houston, when the Wildcats shot just 34 percent from the field, including 9 of 27 from the three point line.

And yet, despite these less than impressive numbers, the key stat of the game may have been free throw shooting. Kentucky, who was 12 of 14 against No. 1 seeded Ohio State and 10 of 16 against No. 2 seeded North Carolina, finished just 4 of 12 against Connecticut.

Forward Terrance Jones, a sixty percent free throw shooter from the line, finished 0 for 5.

Josh Harrellson, the unsung hero for the Wildcats averaging nearly a double-double a game, finished with just 6 points and 4 rebounds.

In the end, poor three throw and three point shooting along with the lack of presence from key players cost Coach Calipari and Kentucky a shot at the National Title game.

The only question left to be answered is will Kentucky's core group return for another run next season. We will soon find out.