ARLINGTON, Texas —
They were one step ahead of Kentucky all night, holding off furious rally after furious rally.
Kentucky's biggest push started when James Young (20 points, seven rebounds) posterized Amida Brimah with a monster dunk to start a three-point play and trigger an 8-0 run.
In the middle of that, Boatright, who shut down Harrison's twin brother Andrew most of the night, twisted his left ankle while receiving an innocuous-looking pass from Napier. He called a timeout, received treatment for the injury and came back out.
"I've got a lot of heart and I wasn't coming out," Boatright said. "We put in too much work all year for me to give up on an ankle sprain."
Napier and Giffey made 3s on UConn's two possessions after the timeout, and that one-point lead was back up to five — fairly comfortable by this tight, taut, buzzer-beating tournament's standards.
The big question in Kentucky is what will happen to all those freshmen. Julius Randle (10 points, six rebounds) is a lottery pick if he leaves for the NBA. Young and the Harrison brothers could be first-rounders. Will they want to leave on this note?
"I think all these kids are coming back, so I think we should be good," Calipari deadpanned, getting big laughs.
He called his group the most coachable bunch he's ever had. After being ranked No. 1 in the preseason, they were a huge disappointment through much of this season. They were seeded an uninspiring eighth for the tournament and came on strong in time for a run to the final.
But they got outdone by a team on a different sort of mission — a team led by Napier, who stuck with the program even though he knew the 2012-13 season was for nothing but fun. But what fun 2013-14 turned out to be.