2014 NCAA Tournament: Kentucky's Stars Have Arrived

By Nathan Grubel
Kentucky Wildcats
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers 74-73 in the second semifinal game of the 2014 NCAA tournament, advancing to face the Connecticut Huskies in the national title game. Aaron Harrison had the clutch make at the end of the game to give the Wildcats the final one-point lead, but it was a team effort throughout the entire contest that helped Kentucky capture the big win.

This Kentucky team has grown up and matured throughout the tournament with big win after big win. Harrison has averaged 14.4 points per game in the tournament on 42.3% shooting, and even though those numbers may not seem huge in terms of quantity, it has been the quality and timeliness of his shot-making that has made Harrison a special player throughout this entire tournament. Harrison has hit the go-ahead shot now in the past three tournament games for Kentucky, and his clutch shooting should only continue on to the championship game Monday night.

Aaron’s brother Andrew Harrison has also made himself known in the tournament with his ball-handling ability, improved control over the ball and court vision. Andrew has averaged 5.0 assists per game in the tournament to just 3.6 turnovers over that same stretch. While the turnover rate seems high, he had six turnovers in Kentucky’s first two tournament games, but over the last three games he has only averaged 2.6, which is certainly an improvement and shows his ability to rise up in the big moment and his incredible poise.

And how can the Wildcats be talked about without mentioning their leader and arguably their best player, Julius Randle?

Randle has been an absolute beast in the post throughout the tournament, putting up averages of 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, including a 16-point, five-rebound effort against Wisconsin. Randle has not been afraid to bang down low in the post, and has asserted himself on the offensive and defensive glass, making it hard for opposing teams to out-rebound the Wildcats.

Other contributors like James Young, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee have done their part as well making timely plays and keeping the offense flowing and the defense tight.

This team has the makings of a real dominant force to be reckoned with in the championship game, and these kids can no longer be looked at as busts and not good enough to succeed in the college game.

These Wildcats are here to stay, but more importantly, they are here to win. The stars have arrived, and they are hungry.

Nathan Grubel is a Memphis Grizzlies writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @The_Only_Grubes, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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