Mar 30, 2014 7:19 PM by Indianapolis, Ind.
When you think about this year's Kentucky team, it's synonymous with slow starts. That was the case again in the Midwest Region Championship game against Michigan. The Wildcats were also playing without Willie Cauley-Stein. The UK Center injured his left foot in the previous game against Louisville.
The Wolverines got six early shots up to just one for Kentucky while Dakari Johnson had two turnovers. Michigan had an early 6-2 lead. And, it would extend the lead as Nik Stauskas started showing his range. A couple of three pointers would give the Wolverines an eight point lead.
Because of the injury to Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee was forced into action and he stepped up to the challenge. The UK Freshman Forward had three offensive rebounds and putbacks, including one big dunk for six quick points. The last pulled Kentucky within two at 14-12.
Michigan would go on a 7-0 run with the last five being scored by Stauskas. The final two were on a nice scoop shot from the Michigan Sophomore. The Wolverines would take a ten point lead, 32-22.
UK would get an answer. After an Andrew Harrison three pointer, James Young would bury a transition three and then hit a driving pull up jumper to get the Cats within 32-28. After a Marcus Lee blocked shot, the Cats would run the court. Another miss and Lee was there for another offensive rebound slam. UK down just two, 32-30.
At the end of th first half, Stauskas would hit one of two free throws for the last of his 18 points before the break. And, UK had one last shot. Julius Randle would hit a driving shot to tie it at 37. UK was led in scoring by Marcus Lee and James Young, who combined to hit all nine of the shots they took. Andrew Harrison and Randle added 6 apiece.
Kentucky started the 2nd half on a 7-2 run. Randle started it with an offensive rebound and slam. Dakari Johnson followed that up with a lay-up, then, Randle with another one from close range and Alex Poythress had a lay-up to make it 45-39 UK.
Michigan got two wide open looks for three. The first was from the corner as Derrick Walton, Jr. buried a trey. Then, Zak Irvin was all alone at the top of the line for another one behind the
Michigan had three straight dunks by Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Jon Horford would put Michigan on top by four, 55-51.
UK would tie it up on a Dakari Johnson dunk and Julius Randle jumper in the lane. Then, Aaron Harrison took his 5th three pointer, but hit his first to give UK a 58-55 lead. The Cats didn't stop there. Andrew Harrison's lay-up finished off an 11-0 run to give UK a 62-55 lead.
Michigan went on its own 6-0 run to cut the UK lead to one. After Aaron Harrison picked up his third foul, Coach Cal left him in the game and he hit a huge three pointer to extend UK's lead back to four, 65-61.
Michigan was down two, when Aaron Harrison hit another three from the corner with two minutes left for a UK 72-67 lead. But, Michigan's, Robinson III would answer with his own three to cut the WIldcats advantage to 72-70.
UK had a shot clock violation with 59 seconds remaining in the game. The Wolverines got a missed lay-up from Stuaskas, a rebound missed three by Stauskas, a rebound a missed three by Walton, Jr. and a rebound tip-in by Jordan Morgan to tie at 72 with with 30 seconds left.
UK had the ball after a timeout with 27 seconds left and the shot clock off. Michigan had a foul to give and took it with 10 seconds left. UK got it to Aaron Harrison and he hit a pull-up three with a hand in his face with 2.6 seconds left for a 75-72 lead.
Michigan was able to get it to Stauskas but his desperation shot from half court was not good. The Wildcats were led in by Julius Randle's 16 points, 11 rebounds. James Young added 13 and Aaron Harrison had 12, including the game-winner.
UK advances to its 16th Final Four where it will face Wisconsin on Saturday night in North Texas. Florida plays Connecticut in the other National Semi-final.