Kentucky wins it, 74-67 ... with their fans chanting "Terrence Jones" in the closing seconds.
The Wildcats will meet UConn for the tournament championship tomorrow at 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Washington will go into the third-place game, meeting No. 2 Michigan State at 2 p.m. PST tomorrow. (ESPN2).
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“Credit Kentucky,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They were really disciplined offensively, and they did what was necessary to get the ball to the ones that they wanted to get the ball to.”
More Romar: “My biggest fear was that through three ball games where we were averaging 105 points, rarely did we go deep into the shot clock – to guard or offensively keep the basketball. My biggest fear was when that finally happened we wouldn’t be able to adjust quicky enough. … I think got us with that tonight. I think we’ll do a better job as a result of it, though. A team like Kentucky, a team like we’re going to play (today), they’ll expose all your weaknesses.”
Kentucky outrebounded UW, 49-39. Also, after a school-record 17 3-pointers against Virginia on Monday, UW managed only three of 13 (23.1 percent) against the Wildcats.
“We talked more to our team about what happens when those 3’s don’t go down – like tonight,” Romar said. “That’s where we have to improve.”
Isaiah Thomas led Washington with 13 points, but was 4-of-14 from the floor, 5-of-10 on foul shots, and 0-for-4 on 3-point tries.
Guard Brandon Knight led Kentucky with 24 points.
“He’s a solid player,” Thomas said. “He got it going for him early, even though he was in foul trouble.”
Of course, the player who drew most of the pregame attention was Terrence Jones – the McDonald’s All-American from Oregon who had committed to Washington before switching to Kentucky.
Facing a variety of UW defenders, Jones shot only 4-of-13. But he worked for a game-high 17 rebounds and managed to pick up 16 points along the way, several on put-backs and with eight from the foul line.
“We felt if Justin (Holiday) started on him he would do a better job of keeping him from just driving,” Romar said. “And I thought Justin did a really good job of that. I thought as a team we did a pretty good job of that. Terrence is a good basketball player. … He found a way to contribute to his team.”
Washington scored the first four points, causing Kentucky coach John Calipari to call a near-instant time out. But it paid off as Kentucky quickly responded with an 18-0 run that put them up 20-6 after about six minutes.
“That was the difference in the game,” Calipari said. “That gave us the gap that we needed. Washington is one of those teams where if you’re down 12 that rim looks (huge to them) and they start shooting 23’s and all of a sudden you’re down 25 before you can turn around.”
In addition to the championship and consolation games, tournament’s final day will have Oklahoma and Chaminade looking for their first win at 11:30 a.m. (ESPNU), and the fifth-place game: Wichita State-Virginia at 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU).
47.3 seconds Thomas drive cuts UK lead to 69-67.
3:49: Romar and refs going at it as Overton seemed to get an elbow in the nose, but no call. Kentucky up, 64-57.
4:30: Refs gave Overton a T. Kentucky lead up to 64-55.
2nd/6:33 Hard to say intensity can increase much, but Venoy Overton just sent a shiver into Deandre Liggins. Such intangibles aside, the scoreboard is becoming a factor: 61-54, Kentucky as we pull into the home stretch.
2nd/7:51: Kentucky up 56-52 with one free throw coming as Brandon Knight tries for four-point play.
2nd/13:09: MBA picks up his third foul ... that and Gant could be big down the stretch. Now it's Kentucy 46, UW 43 as Huskies offense lacking rhythm.
17:15: Gant out with fourth foul.
Second half: ... has begun. Starting five in for Huskies.
Halftime: Huskies up, 35-34. The game has been every bit of what that score might indicate. It feels like a tournament game. Not holiday tournament: NCAA. Deep.
UW shooting 40.6 percent., Kentucky 38.2. UW 35 rebounds, Ky 34. (Same as score.)
Gaddy leading UW with 10 points, Harrison leading Ky. with eight. Jones has seven and played the full 20 minutes.
1st/1:29 Huskies pull even, 30-30, on hyper-confident Gaddy jumper, following Overton drive, following Holiday defense of Jones.
1st/3:36: Kentucky, 26-24. Holiday had a three for lead, but missed. Gant, MBA and Holiday taking turns on Holiday (3 points), but MBA just went to bench with second foul.
1st/7:17: Feels like an NCAA tournament game. Kentucky shooting 40 percent, UW 35.
1st/8:32: UW answering a bit. Back to back MBA scores, including thunder dunk, and it's down to 23-17, Kentucky.
1st/11:48 Holiday started on Jones. UW going bigger with Gant now. Kentucky up, 21-10.
However, Jones hasn't been the problem yet. Two points, on a putback. One-for-4 from field. For now, former Jefferson teammates Terrence Ross is even with him.
1st/15:00:Kentucky on big run. Up, 18-6, and big Kentucky crowd rocking. Obviously, Huskies haven't been in this situation yet, and we're about to see how they react.
Tipoff: Huskies going with usual lineup. Gym very loud. Jones picking up some boos with each touch.
Pregame:Maui's dream match of Washington and Kentucky is about to tip off ... 6:30 PST on ESPN.
This blog post will replace the one below that we've keep keeping over the first three games of the day. We'll keep this one open all through the evening with pregame, in-game and postgame updates, notes, quotes ... and of course your comments always make things more interesting.
I'm told that Huskies will be back in their new white jerseys. But apparently the coaches will be wearing different Hawaiian shirts today ... orange/brown rather than the purples of yesterday.