Mike McFadden hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining and the Colonials stunned the defending national champions 59-57 in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday night, sending the disjointed Wildcats into an uncertain offseason less than a year after cutting down the nets in New Orleans.
"This is humbling," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "They think we're supposed to win 30 a year, 35 a year, go to the Final Four, win a national title."
Not this time. Not even close.
Robert Morris (24-10) led almost the entire way, never blinking in a rare visit from one of college basketball's Goliaths. Then again, this isn't the same Kentucky team that roared through the NCAAs behind stars Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
This batch of Wildcats (21-12) hasn't been the same since center Nerlens Noel went down with a devastating knee injury. Kentucky lost six of its final 10 games, the last one coming just a couple of 3-pointers away from the house Calipari grew up in.
"This is a shot in the arm for them and they deserve to win the game," Calipari said. "If we'd have won at the buzzer, it would have been a shame."
The Wildcats came close. Calipari opted not to call timeout after McFadden's second free throw but Kyle Wiltjer's 3-pointer before the buzzer bounced harmlessly off the rim, sending hundreds of students onto the court following the biggest win in school history.