ARLINGTON, Texas — They were the targets of incessant criticism through much of the regular season and were two of the prime reasons why Kentucky resuscitated its championship hopes in the postseason.
After authoring memorable freshmen seasons under the bright spotlight found in Lexington, the Harrison twins didn't have any more late-game miracles left in them Monday night.
They failed to contain Connecticut's stellar backcourt of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier — the featured matchup in the national title game — and consistent sharpshooter Aaron Harrison didn't have any more late-game heroics from beyond the three-point arc.
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Kentucky had a magical run during the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed, but the magic ran out against Connecticut, which won 60-54.
The Harrison twins' seasons began with them unable to live up to expectations that others had set for them. They were prematurely deemed disappointments who would likely have to return to school for their sophomore seasons because their NBA draft stock had slipped. Andrew Harrison said that it was difficult to tune out that noise during the season, but it helped when his father, Aaron Harrison Sr., told the twins to play loose.
Toward the end of the season, Kentucky coach John Calipari began preaching with his players that "less is more" on the court. Andrew Harrison said he especially followed his coach's mantra, which helped dramatically improve the team.
In the postseason, he averaged two more assists per game than he did in the regular season. As for Aaron Harrison, after shooting 30% from three-point range in the regular season, he made more than 50% of his shots beyond the arc in the postseason.
And of course Aaron Harrison made his largest impact in the final seconds. He made clutch three-pointers to help beat Louisville and Michigan in the Midwest Regional. Then he sank a 25-footer with 5.7 seconds remaining to beat Wisconsin in the national semifinals.
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Both Harrisons got off to inauspicious starts in Monday's national title game.
The Harrison twins faced a daunting task trying to withstand the pressure of experienced guards in the junior Boatright and senior Napier, who had already made life difficult for accomplished backcourt players such as Florida's Scottie Wilbekin and Michigan State's Keith Appling in the tournament.
With both Harrisons standing 66, they had a height advantage over Boatright and Napier, neither taller than 6-1. But the Huskies guards had quickness and experience, especially with Napier, who won a national championship as a freshman in 2011.
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It didn't take long for the Harrisons to show some cracks. Five minutes into action, Napier forced Aaron Harrison to commit a backcourt violation.
During the first 10 minutes of the game, the Harrisons combined for four turnovers — as many as the entire Kentucky team committed against Wisconsin — while shooting 0-for-4 from the field.
Sitting in the first row, their father, Aaron Harrison Sr., yelled, "Just go! Don't wait!"
The Harrisons made an impact late in the first half, but, much like their teammates, ran out of late-game miracles.
Follow national college basketball reporter Eric Prisbell on Twitter at @EricPrisbell.
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