Cats' talent takes them to Final Four

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
11:28
PM ET


INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a reverse choke hold, but Marcus Lee could still breathe.

That's because it was an endearing gesture, not an expression of violence during Kentucky's 75-72 win over Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Elite Eight -- a victory capped by Aaron Harrison's 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds to go.

Alex Poythress snatched freshman Marcus Lee (10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes) by the neck sometime in the second half after another big play extended the previously-anonymous-outside-of-Lexington forward's incredulous streak of ridiculousness that helped the program grab a slot in the Final Four in North Texas, where it will face Wisconsin on Saturday.

"Just natural reaction," Poythress said about the bear hug he gave Lee. "I'm just happy for him. Emotions get the best of you out there."

To most of us, Lee emerged from the abyss.

He'd averaged 5.7 MPG and 2.0 PPG prior to Sunday night. But his stat line against Michigan said, "Tim Duncan."

But a Kentucky reserve is another team's starter -- star, really. John Calipari will compete in his third Final Four in four years because he could reach for Lee, a 6-9 forward with a Sequoia's wingspan and the No. 25 ranking in the 2013 class by RecruitingNation, when he needed someone to help in the post because Willie Cauley-Stein was unavailable with to a foot injury. When John Beilein -- who'd earned a slot in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season, this time without big man Mitch McGary's services -- needed a boost inside, he called on Max Bielfeldt (85 minutes all season).

It's just different.


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