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Kobe Bryant's pick, Kentucky, will face Connecticut in NCAA final

April 05, 2014|By Eric Pincus
  • Julius Randle, right, celebrates with Kentucky teammate Aaron Harrison, whose late three-pointer lifted the Wildcats past Wisconsin and into the NCAA tournament final.
Julius Randle, right, celebrates with Kentucky teammate Aaron Harrison,… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)

The Kentucky Wildcats, eighth seed, advanced to the NCAA tournament's final with a 74-73 win over the No. 2 seed Wisconsin Badgers on an Aaron Harrison game-winning three-pointer with 5.7 seconds left on the clock.

Earlier in the day, Coach Kevin Ollie's Connecticut Huskies, seventh seed, took out Florida Gators, the only remaining top seed in the tournament.

Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant picked Kentucky to win it all, announcing his prediction on Twitter on March 28, before the Wildcats' upset of the Louisville Cardinals (4th) was complete (74-69).

Forward Julius Randle, potentially a top-five prospect in June's NBA draft, scored 16 points with five rebounds, despite needing a break midway through the game with cramps.

Kentucky's James Young, who is also expected to be a first-round pick, scored 17. Center Willie Cauley-Stein may go in the lottery (top 14) but has missed the weekend's games with an ankle injury.

It's unclear where the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, would place in the draft, should they decide to declare. Aaron has proven to be one of the clutch shooters of this year's tournament.

The Lakers have a former Wildcat on the roster in guard Jodie Meeks, who tweeted his support during the game Saturday.

Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky finished with eight points and five rebounds. In the coming days and weeks, players will announce their intentions to return to school or declare for the draft.

At 25-51, the Lakers are in sixth draft position with less than two weeks left in the season. The NBA holds the draft lottery on May 20.

UConn's DeAndre Daniels was the game's leading scorer and rebounder in the win over Florida, collecting a double-double with 20 and 10.

Shabazz Napier finished with 12 points and six assists. Napier was initially projected as a second-round pick. Perhaps his strong tournament run and finals appearance on Monday night will give him a boost to the first round, should he declare.

Patric Young led the Gators with 19 points.


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Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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