SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Say goodbye to John Calipari's fabulous Kentucky freshmen — and probably junior Patrick Patterson, too.
Their season is over, and the next stop for Patterson, flashy guard John Wall and imposing center DeMarcus Cousins could be the NBA after the Wildcats' season ended with a thud. Kentucky's high-tempo offense was stymied by an intimidating West Virginia defense in a 73-66 loss in the East Regional final on Saturday.
Wall and Cousins finished the game on the bench. Wall fouled out with 51 seconds left, and Cousins was on the sideline for the final three minutes because the top-seeded Wildcats needed outside shooters.
The freshmen already have indicated it's their intention to enter the NBA after only one college season, barring a significant change of heart.
Wall already is being pegged as a potential No. 1 pick, and the 6-foot-11 Cousins is projected to go in the first round.
And Patterson, a 6-9 forward who considered entering the draft last year, also is likely to go after he spoke at length Friday about approaching every game like it's his last in college.
Wall, the national freshman of the year, finished with 19 points. Cousins had 15 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes.
It was a stunning end for a team that accomplished so much while putting Big Blue back on the basketball map in Calipari's first year since taking over following Billy Gillispie's dismissal.
The Wildcats (35-2) finished one win short of matching the school record set by the Adolph Rupp-coached team that went 36-3 in 1947-48. And they enjoyed their deepest run in the tournament since 2005, when they lost to Michigan State 94-88 in overtime in a regional final.
Kentucky fans standing behind the Wildcats' bench were anxious and frustrated, standing with their arms crossed with their team trailing 51-42 in the second half. Not even actress and alum Ashley Judd's presence could provide a spark as she regularly shook a blue and white pompom and cheered.
The bench didn't look much happier for most of the second half as players sat with their hands on their chins.
That included Cousins, who barely reacted when teammate Darnell Dodson hit a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to cut the Mountaineers' lead to 70-66.
Wall got off to a slow start and lost his composure after teammate DeAndre Liggins was issued a technical foul for complaining to an official late in the first half. Voicing his own complaint, Wall then drew a warning from referee Curtis Shaw.
At the end of the half, Shaw was spotted at the Kentucky bench warning a team official about Wall.
Things didn't get any better for the Wildcats at the start of the second half.
In a three-possession stretch, freshman Eric Bledsoe missed two free throws and a 3-point shot, Cousins missed a chance for a putback and picked up his third foul by slapping Da'Sean Butler, and Wall had a turnover.
In the meantime, the Mountaineers hit their first three shots, including two 3-pointers, to build a 36-26 edge.
Kansas State falls short against Butler
SALT LAKE CITY — The guards that carried Kansas State to a school-record 29 victories couldn't get the Wildcats a 30th win.
Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente — the backcourt duo that had combined for a 35-point average — had to fight through Butler's relentless defense and were never able to get the Wildcats up to their usual offensive speed in a 63-56 loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday in the West Regional final.
It was Kansas State's lowest-scoring game of the season and only the fifth time the Wildcats finished with less than 70 points.
"We weren't able to guard. We had defensive breakdowns. We didn't make shots," said Pullen, who finished with 14 points after being shut out for the first half. "We made some bad decisions on offense and they capitalized. They're a good team."
Butler was headed home to Indianapolis for the Final Four. The Wildcats (29-8) were just heading home.
Two days after holding off Xavier in double overtime to advance, Kansas State was playing from behind most of the game on Saturday.
"This game was more emotionally draining I think than the last game," said Curtis Kelly, who kept Kansas State alive with 12 points in the first half but scored only two in the second. "I didn't feel as in control. I felt like we kept having to fight back."
After rallying from 11 points down to take a brief lead, the Wildcats struggled to score down the stretch as Butler used a 9-0 run to put away the game and keep the Wildcats from reaching the Final Four for the first time since 1964.
Kansas State tied it 54-all on a jumper by Clemente with 3:06 left, but didn't score again until Pullen's meaningless jumper rolled in at the buzzer.
Clemente finished 7-for-17 and Pullen was 4-for-14. Clemente, a senior who finished with 18 points in his last college game, had just two points in the first half and missed his first five shots. He was also just 1-for-4 from the foul line, where the Wildcats missed half of their 14 attempts.
Clemente missed a free throw after the Wildcats drew within 49-48, but Dominique Sutton was there for the rebound and passed it back to Clemente for a shot from the corner that put the Wildcats up 52-51.
It was a rare moment when the Wildcats were able to get to a loose ball first. Butler won the rebounding battle 41-29 and kept Pullen and Clemente out of rhythm.
"We looked tired. We were sluggish but I don't think it was as much about our wrongdoing as it was Butler's right-doing. They annihilated us on the glass," coach Frank Martin said. "We didn't play real well, but a lot of that has to do with them."
Kansas State had to play two overtimes Thursday night to advance with a win over Xavier. The Wildcats stumbled through the first half and relied almost entirely on forward Curtis Kelly, who scored 12 of Kansas State's 20 points in the half. Only three other Kansas State players scored at all before halftime as the Wildcats had their lowest-scoring half of the season.
"Things just didn't go our way like it's been going the rest of the tournament," Pullen said.