Wichita State suffers first loss of the season to Kentucky in classic

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

More: NCAA Tourney News | Bracket Hub | Expert Brackets

Thirty-five and one.

That's how Wichita State will end its season, after the Shockers fell in the Round of 32 to Kentucky, 78-76.

It was the best game of the NCAA Tournament -- and maybe the entire 2013-14 season.

But Fred VanVleet's missed 3-pointer at the buzzer will end up being the difference between the chance at a truly historic season and ending the campaign with a 35-1 record, getting bounced in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Spoiler alerts
How recent undefeated teams in regular season fared in the NCAAs
2014Wichita State34-0
Lost to Kentucky 78-76 in Round of 32
2004Saint Joseph's27-0
Lost to Oklahoma State 64-62 in Elite Eight
Lost to Duke 79-77 in Final Four
1979Indiana State29-0
Lost to Michigan State 75-64 in title game
Lost to Michigan 86-70 in Final Four
Defeated Michigan 86-68 in title game

Kentucky showed resiliency it rarely demonstrated during the regular season, consistently taking Wichita State's punches and fighting back. The Shockers controlled the latter part of the first half, but Julius Randle came out in the second half like a different player. His physicality and aggressiveness around the rim changed the momentum for Kentucky.

It was a back-and-forth second half, with both teams knocking down shot after shot. James Young's 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining put Kentucky up two, and it was a lead the Wildcats wouldn't relinquish. Andrew Harrison and Randle kept Kentucky down the stretch with free throws.

Cleanthony Early was the star for Wichita State, finishing with 31 points and showing a versatile offensive package. He scored in transition, from behind the arc, in the mid-range, and in the post. But it was his missed layup with about three minutes remaining that kept Wichita State from extending its lead.

The Harrison twins were huge for Kentucky, with Andrew and Aaron combining for 39 points. Andrew's ability to get into the lane and get his own shot was huge, and Aaron's four 3-pointers helped take Wichita State out of its zone defense.

This sets up a monster Sweet 16 matchup between Kentucky and Louisville. It will be the most anticipated regional semifinal of the week, and it's a rematch of Kentucky's victory back in December.

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