Out Clawed on the Glass

The goal was to keep Kentucky - one of the nation's best offensive rebounding teams - to single digits on the glass. The Badgers fell two short of that mark, and two points short of the national championship game.

ARLINGTON, Texas - A year from now, Wisconsin can look back and appreciate the run it made to its first Final Four since 2000.

But that won't make up for the heartbreaking 74-73 loss Wisconsin suffered at the hands of eighth-seed Kentucky on Saturday night.

The way in which the Wildcats ruined the Badgers' attempt for their first title since 1941 was no massive surprise, as Wisconsin couldn't halt Kentucky's front-court offense. The Wildcats grabbed 32 rebounds (11 offensive) and scored 46 points in the paint in the game.

Even preparing for Kentucky to be without 7-foot sophomore center, Willie Cauley-Stein, didn't change its intensity and fight in the post on both ends of the floor, as freshmen Julius Randle (6-9) and Dakari Johnson (7-0) made up for his absence.

"They're monsters, not to mention Willie didn't even play," said Sam Dekker, who finished with 15 points and four rebounds.

Randle - the Naismith semifinalist in his freshman year - showed his post skills by scoring 16 points and grabbing five rebounds (three offensive). Randle caused problems for the Badgers man coverage, utilizing his quick spin-move in the lane.

Johnson pitched in 10 points and seven rebounds, with five coming on the offensive glass.

"They're big boys," said Dekker. "Julius has always been the biggest kid on the playground. That's just how he is. God did something right with him right there."

The Wildcats trailed 40-36 at halftime but were able to score 22 points in the paint in the first half, all the while outrebounding UW 17-12 with four offensive rebounds leading to 10 second-chance points.

The Badgers were admittedly outworked and outmuscled in the first half, and it showed on the stat sheet.

"They make you work," Dekker said. "Coach always says it's not the size of the dog, it's the size of the fight in the dog. We have guys that have that fight."

Despite getting into rebounding position, the Badgers were out out-jumped for loose balls. Kentucky came in averaging 14.6 offensive rebounds per game and 41 a game.

After a Dekker 3-pointer to start the second half, Kentucky went on a 15-0 run in the first five minutes of the second half because of its success controlling the glass. The Wildcats were efficient in the post during the run and for the remainder of the game, scoring 24 points in the paint, including eight points after grabbing five offensive rebounds in their five-minute run.

UW was unable to stop it, with most of the damage coming from dribble penetration that led to tip-in dunks, layups and mid-range jump-shots.

"We knew that would be the big thing," said Nigel Hayes, who had two points and zero rebounds in just seven minutes. "That's why they're still here and advancing. That's a reason why they were able to get back in previous games – their offensive rebounding. Like I said, that was the thing to do, to not let them get the offensive rebounds and we didn't accomplish that well enough."

The Badgers were able to go on their own run, starting with an offensive rebound and put-back by Duje Dukan to begin a 10-2 run, but the Wildcats' ability to score in the paint was too much. Although they made only two 3-pointers in the game, the Wildcats could get to the free throw line because even on dribble penetration.

"Regardless of what they had, we still felt like we could've won this game if we would've just taken better care of getting defensive rebounds," Hayes said.

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