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October 2, 2014

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3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left vaults Kentucky into championship game

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Charlie Neibergall / AP

Kentucky players celebrate on the court after their 74-73 victory over Wisconsin in an NCAA Final Four game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

Updated Saturday, April 5, 2014 | 9 p.m.

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Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison makes a 3-point basket in the final seconds over Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser to win the game 74-73 on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

ARLINGTON, Texas — No, this was not an instant replay, though it certainly is turning into a highlight reel Kentucky and Aaron Harrison could get used to watching over and over again.

Harrison took a pass from his twin brother, Andrew, spotted up from NBA range and watched the ball rattle in for the lead with 5.7 seconds left to lift the Wildcats to a 74-73 victory Saturday night over Wisconsin in the Final Four.

It's the third straight game the Kentucky freshman has made a 3 for the winning points in this magical ride for the Wildcats (29-10), and the second straight time the pass has come from his brother for a spot-up shot from the left center of the arc.

Traevon Jackson had a last-second shot to try to beat the Wildcats, but the desperation jumper rimmed out and once again Harrison found himself at the bottom of a dog pile at center court.

Eighth-seeded Kentucky will play seventh-seeded UConn in the final Monday — the highest seed total to play for the title since they started putting numbers by the names back in 1979.

Wisconsin (30-8) set a Final Four record by going 95 percent from the free-throw line — 19 for 20. But it was that one miss that cost the Badgers. Jackson got Andrew Harrison to jump into him while attempting a 3-pointer with 16.4 seconds left. His first free throw rimmed out, and after he made the second two, Wisconsin had a 73-71 lead and Kentucky had the ball.

Who didn't know where it was going?

Against Louisville in the regional semifinal, Aaron Harrison was spotted up in the corner when Julius Randle spotted him open. He hit the go-ahead 3 with 39.1 seconds left. Two nights later, there were 3.4 seconds on the clock and Harrison was a few steps over to the left when he took the pass from his brother. The ball clanged in and he trotted backward and pumped his hands in the air.

A few minutes later, he was hugging his mom in the stands.

James Young led Kentucky with 17 points and Randle finished with 16, but only five boards to snap his string of three straight double-doubles.

But Kentucky had an answer for Wisconsin's do-everything 7-footer, Frank Kaminsky, who was held to eight points and five rebounds.

Ben Brust and Sam Dekker had 15 each for the Badgers, who came up a game short of their first appearance in the final since 1941.

Instead, it's Kentucky going for its ninth national title and second in three years, with an almost completely rebuilt roster from 2012. It's the way coach John Calipari does it, like it or not.

His star during this run: Aaron Harrison, who has first-round potential, though it won't be his final numbers in this game — eight points, three rebounds — that will impress the scouts as much as his final shot.

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