Six years ago to the day, Aaron Harrison made it at “the point where he always hits it.”
On April 5, 2014, the eight-seed Kentucky Wildcats took on the two-seed Wisconsin Badgers with a spot in the national title on the line.
After taking down nine-seed Kansas State in the opening round, the Wildcats were forced to follow it up with back-to-back-to-back victories against lower-ranked seeds for a spot in the Final Four. It started with a gritty victory over Wichita State (1) – the first team since UNLV in 1991 to go into postseason play undefeated – in the Round of 32, followed by defending champion* Louisville (4) in the Sweet Sixteen, and Michigan (2) in the Elite Eight.
The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight victories needed late-game heroics from freshman guard Aaron Harrison, but what would happen against the Badgers in the Final Four?
Leading by as many as nine points in the first half, Wisconsin had found its early footing with balanced efforts out of Sam Dekker, Ben Brust, Traevon Jackson, and Frank Kaminsky to establish a 40-36 lead at the break.
From there, the Cats climbed back on top less than three minutes into the second half before pushing ahead by eight with 15:33 to go.
After tying it back up with 12:16 remaining, both teams trading haymaker after haymaker right to the end, with neither leading by more than five the rest of the way.
Down the stretch, Wisconsin scored four straight points in the final 1:18 to push ahead by two.
With just 16.4 seconds to go and the game on the line, freshman guard Andrew Harrison brought the ball up the floor, drove it to the basket, and found freshman center Dakari Johnson in the lane. Johnson passed it back to the lead guard in the left corner, who then found his twin brother, Aaron, several feet behind the three-point line on the wing.
In nearly identical fashion from just a week prior, Harrison lifted for the contested three and watched it fall gracefully through the net with just 5.7 seconds to go.
In a last-ditch effort, Traevon Jackson’s attempt from the left elbow ricocheted off the backboard and across the front of the iron at the buzzer to solidify yet another upset victory and secure a spot in the national title game for the young Wildcats. .
“You can’t be scared to miss, and you want to be that guy that wants to take the big shots,” Harrison said following the game. “Coach said he wanted me to take the shot, my teammates have confidence in me, and I just fed off that.”
In the win, freshman wing James Young led the Wildcats with 17 points, followed by star rookie Julius Randle with 16 points and five rebounds, and Johnson with ten points and seven rebounds to round out double-digit scorers.
For the Badgers, Brust and Dekker finished with 15 apiece, followed by Jackson with 12.
With the win, Kentucky became the first team to field a starting lineup consisting of all freshman at the Final Four and the national title since Michigan’s Fab Five accomplished the feat in 1991-92.
Feeling nostalgic? Check out the entire game replay below:
“This is the point where he always hits it… OH! Aaron Harrison, beyond belief!”