The Kentucky Wildcats lost their chance to go to the Final Four of the 2017 NCAA tournament in one of the most brutal ways possible. After making a stellar comeback in the last 54 seconds, that was complete with Malik Monk draining a wild 3-pointer to tie the game, UNC's most improbable hero stepped up.
With a roster loaded up with 5-star prospects and future NBA players, it was former walk-on Luke Maye who found himself with an open jumper as time was expiring. Of course, he drained the shot and destroyed Kentucky's chance at a national championship. The end of the game was incredible, but the aftermath is something that will break your heart.
The Kentucky locker room was filled with incredible emotion, as you could probably imagine, and it was tear-jerking even watching the interviews afterward. Specifically, guard De'Aaron Fox's emotions were fully on display as he embraced teammate Bam Adebayo and spoke about how much he loved his teammates, per SEC Country's Joe Mussatto.
If you didn't appreciate what Fox did before now, that emotion just goes to show much the tournament really means to these players. Fox and many of his teammates may wind up being one-and-done college players, but that certainly doesn't mean they aren't all-in with their teammates and that they don't form amazing bonds with them as well.
Fox averaged an impressive 21.25 points per game in the tournament, including a 39-point explosion against a superb UCLA team. He quickly proved that he has the upside to be a strong NBA prospect, and could be a name worth watching during the 2017 NBA draft, assuming he does decide to enter his name into the mix.
The Wildcats were down 71-64 with 54 seconds remaining before Fox and Monk combined to hit three 3-pointers down the home stretch and even the game up at 73-73. Unfortunately, there was too much time left for North Carolina, and Maye found himself left wide open in the wild scramble to try to get a last-second shot.
With all of that combining to a wild finish and an unreal final stretch of the game, it's hard not to imagine the players being at an all-time high with their emotions. Unfortunately for Kentucky, they were just on the wrong side of it this time.