Irish Discover 38+ Minutes of Team Play Isn't Enough
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After Karl-Anthony Towns had tied the game at 66 with around a minute to play and the ball in Jerian Grant's hands, the Kentucky Wildcats must have been smiling to themselves.
Notre Dame went into the dreaded 1-4 offensive set, which is about as dreaded as the prevent defense is to NFL fans.
At last, the 'Cats had the Irish just where they wanted them: the other guys' best vs their best. And any five of their best is better.
Three lousy possessions later, Kentucky was 38-0 and on its way to Indianapolis.
Looking back, perhaps this is the point where Grant's judgment became grandiose, and Notre Dame's fall followed:
Now, the Wildcats can continue to pursue 40-0 and perfection against Wisconsin in a rematch of a last year's national semi-final.
Kentucky won that one, 74-73, as Andrew's twin brother, Aaron, took a pass from Andrew and nailed a three-pointer with five seconds to go:
Clearly, Harrison's efforts were well and truly appreciated. How Gideon missed that party is a mystery for the ages.
This time around, Wisconsin is 35-3 and is still led by Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, and Nigel Hayes, all of whom played in that game last year. Their team-oriented game rarely has lapses such as Notre Dame's. It's rarely been stopped, even though every opponent knows what's coming. That's because that, while it looks simple, there's a lot of stuff going on:
The in-game comment notwithstanding, 2014-2015 stats indicate Wisconsin (60th) has a better defense than the Irish (165th). As well, the Badgers may have Traevon Jackson for limited duty; he made his first appearance since being sideline by a mid-January injury.
Kentucky escaped last night. Notre Dame fans are heartbroken. The Wildcats and coach John Calipari think they can play better, and they just might have to. Otherwise, their dream season might end in a way they'd rather not consider.