Towns Drops 25 and Kentucky Makes Key Defensive Play as Wildcats Remain Perfect at 38-0 | Zagsblog
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Thursday / December 9.
  • Towns Drops 25 and Kentucky Makes Key Defensive Play as Wildcats Remain Perfect at 38-0

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    Kentucky is still perfect and they have Karl-Anthony Towns to thank for it.

    The 7-foot New Jersey native went for 17 of his career-high 25 points in the second half and added 5 rebounds as No. 1 Kentucky fended off its toughest challenge yet in this NCAA Tournament by downing No. 3 Notre Dame, 68-66, in the Midwest Region final Saturday night in Cleveland.

    “I played a bad game last game but my brothers had me,” Towns told TBS with his father, Karl Towns, attached to his hip. “Just like my father taught me me growing up, it’s not about the last game, it’s about winning. And we did a great job of winning and we just went out there and did a great job.”

    Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles hounded Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant into taking a step-back, off-balance 3-pointer in the final seconds but the shot was off the mark and Kentucky advanced to play Wisconsin in the Final Four on Saturday in Indianapolis.

    This will be Kentucky’s fourth Final Four in the last five seasons.

    NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Notre Dame vs Kentucky“Notre Dame is a great team, I mean one of the best teams that we’ve ever played so far,” said Towns, a projected top-2 pick in the NBA Draft. “They’re just so efficient offensively.”

    He added: “If you’re going to win an Elite Eight game, this is the game you want to play.”

    Towns still hasn’t lost a postseason game since March 2013, when his St. Joe’s-Metuchen team lost to Roselle Catholic in the New Jersey Tournament of Champions finals.

    Andrew Harrison made two clutch foul shots with 6 seconds left to put Kentucky up 68-66.

    “We figured out a way to win it,” Kentucky coach John Calipari told TBS.

    Kentucky has now tied the NCAA record of 38 wins in a season.

    Two more wins and they will be 40-0 with an NCAA championship.

    “We’re just saying, one more game, let’s be at our best,” Calipari said.

    Zach Auguste went for 20 points and 9 rebounds for Notre Dame, Steve Vasturia had 16 points and Grant finished with 15 points.

    “I’m proud of our group, we emptied the tank tonight and that’s all I asked them to do before the game,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said on the podium.

    Thanks to Frank Kaminsky’s 29 points and Sam Dekker’s 27, No. 1 Wisconsin beat No. 2 Arizona, 85-78, earlier Saturday in Los Angeles.

    Wisconsin (35-3) denied the Wildcats (34-4) a Final Four berth for the second straight year, having beaten them, 74-73 in overtime in Anaheim, California, a year ago when their seeds were reversed.

    “That loss left a sour taste in our mouth, so we wanted to get back,” Dekker said of last season’s one-point loss to Kentucky in the national semifinals, per the AP. “As a team, we set some goals of what we wanted to do, and now, we’re two games away from our last goal.”

     

    Photo: USA Today Sports



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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.