Arlington, TX (WQOW) -- It's what makes sports both fantastic and frustrating -- only one team gets to end their season the way they want. For Wisconsin, their year ends with a gut-wrenching 74-73 loss to Kentucky in the Final Four.
Wisconsin wasn't happy just getting here to the Final Four, their goal was to win a national title. So coming up close in a national semifinal and showing the basketball world the Badgers could compete on this stage is of little consolation.
"I'm happy that we got to the Final Four but we certainly weren't pleased that it ended this way. We wanted to get to the next game and win the whole thing and we definitely had the potential to do that. So it's just unfortunate that it didn't get to that point," says senior center Evan Anderson.
Wisconsin set a Final Four record by hitting 19-of-20 free throws, but that one miss by Traevon Jackson gave Kentucky an opportunity to take the lead. Aaron Harrison hit a clutch three with just over five seconds left with Josh Gasser right in his grill.
"I cupped his hand, we were hand in hand after that shot so I thought I contested it alright," says Gasser. "Obviously looking back on it, I would have like to contest it even better. But he made a great play so I have to give him credit."
With time running down in regulation, the Badgers put the ball in the hands of Traevon Jackson. But unlike the Harrison shot, Jackson didn't get the bounce.
"I thought I had a chance," says Jackson. "I kind of had to adjust in the air a little bit. But I thought it definitely had a chance and it's unfortunate that it didn't go in."
Head coach Bo Ryan adds: We got the ball to Trae and he got to his favorite position. I felt pretty good that he was able to get to that spot where he's hit shots before. It just didn't go."
Kentucky's physicality was an issue for the Badgers. Wisconsin was outscored 46-24 in the paint and 23-10 in 2nd chance points.
"It was the key to our success if we wanted to win, we had to limit their offensive rebounds. We didn't do a great job with that which is why we're in here talking about our loss," says freshman forward Nigel Hayes.
The Badgers did win the bench scoring battle. Freshman Bronson Koenig contributed eleven points while Duje Dukan had eight, all in the second half.
"I just blocked out the crowd and didn't really think about it, but when Trae got that steal and passed it to me and I got that lay up my confidence just grew after that and I hit my next shot. So yeah -- I just felt really comfortable," says Koenig.
"Whenever we come into the game, we just want to make an impact. Any kind of contribution," adds Dukan. "In the second half, I had a couple opportunities whether it was kickouts or hitting the glass. You just want to make and impact, especially with it being the Final Four. You just want this so bad."
Wisconsin only loses one regular, Ben Brust. But the future will have to wait for this group, as they deal with the pain of the present.
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