Three quick things from Kentucky’s Final Four loss

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INDIANAPOLIS — Three quick things from Kentucky’s 71-64 loss to Wisconsin in the Final Four:

1. Three shot clock violations = one loss. Usually Kentucky is the team that forces shot clock violations, but it was shot clock violations on the offensive end that cost the Cats dearly. Kentucky led 60-56 with 6:35 remaining when UK went three straight possessions without drawing iron.

The first happened at 5:30. The second happened at 4:41. After Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker scored to cut the UK lead to 60-58, the Cats committed the unfathomable, their third straight shot clock violation, this with 3:16 to go.

“I think we clogged the lane a little more,” said Dekker afterward.

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Wisconsin transcript: ‘These guys just gutted it out’

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INDIANAPOLIS — Transcript from the Wisconsin press conference after win over Kentucky:

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by the University of Wisconsin. Coach, we’ll ask for an opening statement.

COACH RYAN: Extremely proud of the way our guys hung in there when it looked like we dug ourselves a hole that we could never get out of. When you don’t score a field goal in about a seven-minute period, the other team got hot. When we got down four, we just kept battling on every possession. I’m recapping the game for you (smiling). It was just the end, the last five minutes. Again, these guys just gutted it out. I told them, I’ll hang out on the sideline for 40 minutes Sunday night [sic]. So here we are.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

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Kentucky transcript: ‘They did and we didn’t’

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INDIANAPOLIS — Kentucky’s post-game press conference after loss to Wisconsin.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll begin with an opening statement from Coach Calipari and then go to the players for questions.

COACH CALIPARI: Could not be more proud of this group of young people. What they did all year, just took us all on a ride, our staff, our school, our state. Took us on a ride. We all wanted to win those last two. These kids wanted to win it in the worst way. But you have to give Wisconsin credit. They did to us what we have done to teams. I’m going to look at the tape. There’s some things I probably should have done, a timeout here, I maybe should have changed up something. But we normally execute down the stretch, and we didn’t. They did. They made plays down there and we didn’t. Can’t take away. I know everybody is going to say, This season… This season is historic. I just can’t believe anybody is going to do what these kids just did to get to this point unblemished with the schedule they played, then how they did it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

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Final Four Liveblog: Kentucky-Wisconsin

Live Blog Final Four Liveblog: Kentucky-Wisconsin
 

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Video: My take on Kentucky-Wisconsin plus a prediction

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Kentucky-Wisconsin statistical comparisons

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INDIANAPOLIS — Comparing the statistics heading into Saturday night’s Final Four game between Kentucky and Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium leads to two conclusions. Kentucky is a great defensive team. Wisconsin is a great offensive team.

Ken Pomeroy’s advanced metrics rank UK as the nation’s most efficient defensive team. Wisconsin is 54th. UK’s opponents are averaging just 0.836 points per possession, compared to 0.964 for Wisconsin’s opponents. Kentucky’s foes are shooting 35.2 percent from the floor. Wisconsin’s foes are shooting 42.6 percent.

On the flip side, Pomeroy ranks Wisconsin as the nation’s most efficient offensive team. Kentucky is fifth. (Still very good.) Wisconsin averages 1.216 points per possession. UK averages 1.155. Wisconsin is shooting 48.6 percent from the floor. Kentucky is shooting 46.8.

Conventional wisdom says the blueprint to beating Kentucky — though no one has beaten Kentucky — involves making three-point shots. Never mind that Notre Dame shot 52 percent inside the arc, compared to 28 percent outside, and came within a missed three-pointer at the buzzer of toppling the nation’s top-ranked team last Saturday.

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Big Blue Links: It’s Final Four Saturday

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Big Blue Links for Final Four Saturday:

Wisconsin a unique threat, but Kentucky still king as it enters Final Four undefeated, writes Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader.

Mark Story of the Herald-Leader looks at how Kentucky and Wisconsin match up position-by-position.

Kentucky facing one of the tournament’s hottest players in Sam Dekker, reports Ben Roberts of Herald-Leader.

This Final Four offers a Mount Rushmore of college coaches, says my column.

Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns are great friends, plus more Final Four notes, from Jerry Tipton of H-L.

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Videos: Kentucky players talk Wisconsin matchup

INDIANAPOLIS — Here are five videos from the breakout interview sessions with Kentucky basketball players on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Above, Willie Cauley-Stein talks about his relationship with Blake Hundley, a nine-year-old cancer patient in Shelbyville. A fund-raiser was held to pay for Hundley attending Saturday’s UK-Wisconsin game.

We also have Cauley-Stein talking about if the Final Four will define this Kentucky team. Karl-Anthony Towns talks about Jahlil Okafor and the NBA Draft. (Sort of.) Aaron Harrison talks about his game-winning shot against Wisconsin last year and the differences between the two teams. Andrew Harrison talks about his definition of pressure.

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Kentucky: ‘We had two vicious practices’

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INDIANAPOLIS — Here’s the Kentucky transcript from Friday’s press conference previewing Saturday’s national semifinal game against Wisconsin.

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by John Calipari. We’ll take questions for Coach Calipari.

Q. John, you’ve won the Coach of the Year award. You’ve been to so many Final Fours now, but with the undefeated record looming over you, how different has this Final Four been and how have you had to treat the team as they’re coming in here?

COACH CALIPARI: Every team that you coach is different. My first two when I was at UMass, we really had backed up, were trying to keep them loose. It was our first time, school’s first time. Probably didn’t do as good of a job as I needed to because of that. I mean, our practices were an hour. When we went back, and at Memphis, that team had a spirit about them that they wanted to go, but we did back off some, but not as much as we did. This year’s team, I mean, we had two vicious practices Tuesday and Wednesday. I was on them like it was December. This is a team that wants to go at each other. Our advantage is that we have a lot of guys. So when we scrimmage, you really benefit by that. They want to. They don’t want to do drills. This is not a drills team. Stop the drills, throw the ball up. They go after each other. They argue every call. They fight. I have to, Stop it! I’m saying that five times a practice. So we went at it. We’re basically done now. I feel that we’ve done what we’re supposed to do with this team, but you never know. Probably after it’s over, I’ll say, I wish I hadn’t gone so hard.

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Videos: Wisconsin players on Kentucky matchup

INDIANAPOLIS — During the Friday press conferences, the Wisconsin starters were put into breakout rooms for interviews with the media.

Above is Sam Dekker, talking about the fan criticism he has received before winning the West Region Most Valuable Player award last weekend. After the jump, Dekker talks about the advice he’s received from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Frank Kaminsky, the AP Player of the Year, talks about who he patterns his game after. And Nigel Hayes talks about what it would mean to beat Kentucky.

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