By LARRY VAUGHT
There was a time this season when it looked like Kentucky had no chance to make the Final Four. There were other times recently when the Wildcats looked like a team that might be able to win a national championship.
On Saturday, though, Kentucky was much closer to the team that had too many flaws while falling 73-67 to Indiana in the NCAA Tournament second round.
Kentucky got hurt inside. The Hoosiers had nine second-chance points. Kentucky had none.
Indiana freshman big man Thomas Bryant, once a UK target, had 19 points and five rebounds. Kentucky’s Marcus Lee, Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress had 14 points and 15 rebounds combined.
Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis, who had played and scored well in recent games, combined for just seven points — all by Briscoe — in a combined 44 minutes.
Kentucky had 16 turnovers and just two blocked shots after blocking 15 the previous game. Another sign of UK’s frustration — just eight assists.
Don’t blame Tyler Ulis. He was not perfect but he had 27 points, three assists and two steals. If this was his last UK game, he was superb again.
Freshman Jamal Murray, who had been a lethal scoring machine in February, got 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists — but he was 1-for-9 from 3-point range.
Kentucky coach John Calipari talked after the game about how he felt bad for certain players but that the future was bright with perhaps his best recruiting class yet coming in next season. Of course, this was the first time at Kentucky that Calipari failed to make the Elite Eight — or Sweet Sixteen — when he got a team in the tournament.
But also credit Indiana. The Hoosiers had been wanting this game and they outplayed UK when it counted the most.
“It’s over. I wish we could have gone out a different way,” Poythress, a senior, said.
So do UK fans who had recently become Big Blue Believers.