Since 2009, John Calipari has been at the helm of the most prestigious program in College Basketball. Throughout his time at Kentucky there have been so many moments that capture our hearts and stay in our memory forever. I’m starting a series over the next five days that will rank what I believe to be the top 5 moments of the Calipari Era and today we’ll start with #5…Aaron Harrison and the 2014 NCAA run.
Perhaps one of the best recruiting classes John Calipari has ever had was in 2014 when Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle, James Young, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, and Dominique Hawkins all came to Lexington in hopes of bringing #9, two years after the 2012 team brought home the glory. The year was disappointing to say the least. They lost every big game including Michigan State, Baylor, and North Carolina to begin the season. SEC play was just as rough when Kentucky posted 12-6 record where they also lost every big game including twice against Florida and then a third time in the SEC finals. The worst loss came against South Carolina when Calipari got ejected early and that is where the famous postgame interview from Aaron Harrison came into play.
“It’s going to be a great story” and that it was. Kentucky was shocked to receive a 8 seed in the MidWest region and of course their path was hard including their 2nd round match up against the undefeated Wichita State Shockers. Arguably one of the greatest games played in that tournament, a back a forth match that saw Kentucky win 78-76 and their following matchup is where the magic began. After trailing Louisville for most of the game, Aaron drills a corner three with 39.4 seconds remaining to take the lead against the Cards and they never recovered. Kentucky rolled 74-69 thanks to Harrison but that wasn’t even the best.
The following game against Michigan is where Harrison stole the show. With the game tied 72-72 and 5 seconds remaining and drilled a three to put the Cats up three and thus the famous shoulder shrug was made. But the magic did not stop there. The Final Four, the team that was not supposed to be there, was trailing Wisconsin in the final seconds and Andrew Harrison drove the lane and almost threw the ball away, but instead he recovers and finds his brother who is heavily contested and he says “shoot, shoot” and Aaron does just that and sinks the Badger’s hearts as Kentucky advances. While they lost to UCONN in the Championship, this run is forever remembered due to their fight and their ability to push through every obstacle that season. As Harrison said, “it’s going to be a great story” and that is exactly what is was.