John Calipari yells out instructions to his team during Kentucky's… (Mark Cornelison / McClatchy-Tribune )
The NCAA basketball tournament has barely begun, but the reigning national champion Kentucky Wildcats have already been eliminated in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Robert Morris upset last season’s college basketball champion with a 59-57 victory over the Wildcats on Tuesday in front of a home crowd of 3,500 fans.
Kentucky was the No. 1 seeded team in the NIT, but because the school’s home court, Rupp Arena, will be hosting second and third-round NCAA tournament games this weekend they were forced to play their tournament opener on the road.
Robert Morris’ Mike McFadden hit two free throws in the closing seconds of the game to put the Colonials on top with 8.7 seconds left in the game.
Instead of drawing up a final play, Kentucky inbounded the ball and drove up the court where Kyle Wiltjer put up one final shot -- a missed three-pointer.
Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin led all scorers with 18 points. Robert Morris' Lucky Jones led the Colonials with 15, but was ejected for a flagrant foul on Goodwin with 3:41 left in the second half.
Part of the Wildcats’ disappointing 21-12 season can be traced to the loss of star center Nerlens Noel, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a loss to Florida on Feb. 12.
Additionally, Kentucky also lost six players to the NBA draft following their tournament victory, including the No. 1 and No. 2 overall draft picks, Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte Bobcats).
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.