VAUGHT: Josh Carrier takes loss hard

Playing in NCAA regional championship game would have meant a lot to Josh Carrier. But when Kentucky coach Tubby Smith asked him if he wanted to pay, Carrier couldn't get up. He couldn't even move.

That's because only a few seconds were left in UK's 94-88 double overtime loss to Michigan State and Carrier knew not only had his Final Four dream ended, but his basketball career was over, too.

"This is a very emotional night for me," Carrier said. "But it's not just me. It's everybody on the team. It was a great game with great plays. Life goes on. I know that. Maybe it will make our young guys know how hard it is to make the Final Four."

All they had to do was look at Carrier to see what playing at Kentucky meant. He was a role player for four years and never was a major contributor on the court. However, despite almost constant rumors that he would transfer, he stayed four years because he loved playing for Kentucky. He also developed into a leader that teammates and coach Tubby Smith constantly praised.

As tears flowed out his eyes and down his cheeks, Carrier tried to answer questions after his final Kentucky loss.

"It's hard to explain what being here means to me. This the best place you could ever be," Carrier said. "Now my basketball career is ended. I'll wake up and still be at Kentucky, but it won't be the same."

He will be bouncing a few basketballs in the weeks ahead. He plans to work out regularly with teammate Chuck Hayes to help prepare Hayes for any NBA draft camps he's invited to attend.

"Chuck means so much to me," Carrier said. "I wish him the best and I am going to try and make him bust his tail the next few weeks to help him get where he wants to be. But I sure wish we were still going to be practicing because getting Kentucky to a Final Four would have really meant a lot to both of us."

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