Sophomore guards and twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison came through in the clutch, scoring five of Kentucky’s final seven points to help the No. 1 seed Wildcats edge out No. 3 seed Notre Dame, 68-66, in the Elite Eight round of the Midwest NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March 28 in Cleveland, Ohio. The undefeated Wildcats (38-0 overall) advanced on to the Final Four, where it will face the West fellow No. 1 seed Wisconsin, who took out No. 2 Arizona, 85-78, March 28 in other Elite Eight action. The Final Four is set for April 4 in Indianapolis.
Kentucky received its toughest challenge of the tournament, by far, on Saturday night against Notre Dame. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish weren’t afraid to attack the basket, even if it meant attacking Kentucky’s huge front line of defense. This resulted in many high percentage shots for Notre Dame, who went into halftime tied up at 31-31 with the Wildcats.
Notre Dame took over the lead in the second half, and even led by as many as six points with about five minutes left in the game. But Kentucky kept fighting back and tied the score at 66-66 with less than a minute left after a clutch three-pointer made by Aaron Hernandez. Then, Aaron’s twin, Andrew, nailed two clutch free throws to give Kentucky the game-deciding lead.
Andrew finished with seven points and Aaron ended up with six points.
Freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with a game-high 25 points for Kentucky; freshman guard Devin Booker was the only other Wildcat to score double-digit points with 10. Junior forward Zach Auguste led Notre Dame with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Next – Notre Dame ends its season with a 32-6 record, while Kentucky maintains its goal to become the first undefeated team to win the NCAA championship in 39 years.