ST. LOUIS — The Harrison twins, Julius Randle and the rest of Kentucky's highly touted, blue-chip freshmen haven't been perfect this season. But coming of age in a hurry, they knocked off previously perfect (35-0) Wichita State 78-76 Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16.
The game — and Wichita State's season — ended when Shockers guard Fred Van Vleet missed a three-pointer to win at the buzzer.
Wearing a blue sleeve on the right (shooting) elbow he injured here in round two, 6-6 guard Andrew Harrison led Kentucky with 20 points. Brother Aaron added 19, and Randle, a 6-9 forward, had 13.
The Shockers, who came into the Midwest Region with a No. 1 seed and questions about the toughness of their schedule, end their season at 35-1. They made the Final Four last year. This year, they'll go down as champions of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Kentucky (26-10, which again started five freshman and came in as the No. 8 seed in the region, advances to face defending national champion Louisville. So the Wildcats, ranked No.1 nationally in the preseason on the strength of their latest recruiting haul, still have a shot to finish that way.
During the SEC tournament, Kentucky's youngsters showed signs they were coming together with a one-point loss in the final to Florida, the No. 1-ranked team in the NCAA field. Now they have a chance to add to Kentucky's legacy of eight national titles.
Kentucky was up 19-15 midway of the first half. Wichita State went on a 17-4 run that gave it 32-23 lead with until five minutes left until halftime. But Kentucky James Young hit a three with second left in the first half to cut Wichita State's lead to 37-31 at the break.
In the second half, Wichita State for consecutive three-pointers on three possessions (one by Ron Baker and two by Cleanthony Early) to take a 69-64 lead with under five minutes left. But it went down to the final minutes.
James Young hit a three-pointer with 1:38 left that put Kentucky ahead to stay at 75-71. Andrew Harrison made three freethrows and Randle added one in the final minute to secure the win.
Wichita State lost despite 31 points by Early, while Baker added 20.
There were three seconds left when Wichita State started its final possession of the season. Van Vleet's three-point attempt bounced off the rim.