Headlines: Kentucky Wildcats Back to the Final Four

1 of 2
  • The Wildcats held on in a close one to edge the Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  • Karl Towns has a huge game, pulls Kentucky Wildcats to a win
  • With Kentucky’s and Wisconsin’s elite eight wins last night, both teams will play each other in the final four for a second year in a row
  • Previewing today’s elite eight matchups

Another game was added to the all-time greatest games of March last night when Notre Dame pushed the Wildcats to the edge. The Cats pulled off their second consecutive Final Four last night when they survived Notre Dame’s best punch, 68-66.

"Notre Dame gave Kentucky the scare of its season by playing fearlessly against a bigger team, and one widely viewed as more talented, that was supposed to cruise into the Final Four almost by decree. Kentucky was thought to be too tall, too deep and too agile to be overcome by the plucky Fighting Irish, but it only barely preserved its perfect record as it advanced. But when Notre Dame’s final shot went long and Kentucky secured a harrowing win, it was the Kentucky bench that erupted in celebration, as if it were the underdog upsetting the giant. Kentucky Wildcats Wildcat Blue Nation 1d - Kentucky football: 3 players who need to step up in week 4 More headlines around FanSided: 2d - Kentucky basketball: 4-star recruit visits campus, has unique connection 2d - Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 3 2d - Kentucky football: The good, the bad, and the ugly in win over Akron 2d - Claim $100 Sign-Up Bonus PLUS $100 off NFL Sunday Ticket with FanDuel Kentucky Promo! 2d - Kentucky football: 3 takeaways from win over Akron More News at Wildcat Blue Nation The Kentucky machine, perhaps dented and fallible, still rolled to its 17th Final Four on Saturday after a 68-66 victory over a worthy Notre Dame team in the round of 8 at Quicken Loans Arena. The top-seeded Wildcats improved to an impeccable 38-0 and will play Wisconsin in the national semifinal next week in Indianapolis. The teams went back and forth from the opening tip until the final seconds, when the game could have gone either way. With 2 minutes 33 seconds remaining, Jerian Grant, Notre Dame’s senior guard, hit a 3-pointer with the shot clock down to almost nothing, giving the Irish a 66-64 lead. But a minute later, the freshman Karl-Anthony Towns hit from in close to draw Kentucky even, and the Wildcats forced a shot-clock violation with 33 seconds to play. On the next possession, Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison was fouled, and he coolly hit both free throws with six seconds remaining. Notre Dame inbounded to Grant, who rushed down the court into the corner in front of his bench and hoisted a desperation shot."

Luckily for the blood pressure of all who bleed blue, he missed that shot. On to the next one.

Mar 28, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Andrew Harrison (5) reacts after the win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the finals of the midwest regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Kentucky won 68-66. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt, the x-factor of last night’s close win over the Irish was Karl-Anthony Towns. He finished the game with 25 and was Kentucky’s life support for just about the entire second half. Read more from the Courier Journal’s Kyle Tucker:

"After his one-point performance in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night, Kentucky freshman Karl-Anthony Towns was the one angry Wildcat in the winning locker room. He vowed to be motivated for the Midwest Regional final against Notre Dame. “We’ll see,” he said. “Trust me, we’ll see.” America saw on Saturday night, as the 6-foot-11 rookie put undefeated Kentucky and its bid for perfection on his broad back and carried the Cats to a 68-66 victory. It was their closest call yet, but thanks to a career-high 25 points from Towns, it’s on to a second straight Final Four… Kentucky surged out of the halftime locker room for what was, at the time, the game’s largest lead: 38-33 after two minutes. Karl-Anthony Towns scored six points in the first four minutes of the second half, all right over 6-10 Zach Auguste… It was a frenetic pace as the two teams combined to hit 11 of 15 shots to open the second half. Towns and Auguste staged a duel down low. The latter couldn’t stop Kentucky’s 6-11 freshman, who looked every bit the projected top-three pro prospect he is, as Towns scored 17 in the second half."

Let’s all take a step back and appreciate Town’s effort last night.

Mar 28, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Karl-Anthony Towns (12) is guarded by Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Bonzie Colson (35) during the first half in the finals of the midwest regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports