With a game at South Carolina on Saturday, Kentucky returns to the scene of — arguably — last season's most memorable game.
Of course, Aaron Harrison's three straight game-winning shots in the 2014 NCAA Tournament were historic. Yes, the NCAA Tournament victory over unbeaten Wichita State was that rare competition in which both teams play at a championship level.
But for pure drama, jarring surprises and a heart-warming fairy-tale-come-true ending, Kentucky's 72-67 loss at South Carolina last season cannot be topped.
The loss to last-place South Carolina was the nadir of a Kentucky season that seemed to be unraveling.
Yet, after the game, guard Aaron Harrison spoke of a "great story" that the Cats would write. Huh?
"He didn't say it would be a great story," UK Coach John Calipari said Thursday. "What he said was we can do what we want. We can write our own story."
Actually, Harrison did say UK would write a great story. "It's frustrating to lose," he said in the postgame news conference. "But we know what we can do. It is going to be a great story."
Those words puzzled reporters who — unlike Calipari — attended the post-game news conference. The UK coach was ejected in the second half after his second technical foul, and chose not to answer questions. So he had a good excuse not to know what Harrison said. "I had left the arena already," he said with a smile.
A month later, Harrison's words seemed prophetic as UK advanced to the Final Four.
When asked Thursday about his brother's words, Andrew Harrison said he was not surprised. "Because I know he has the ultimate belief in himself. That's how you have to be."
Until Aaron Harrison made his stunning proclamation, the night's most surprising development was Calipari's ejection. He had been nearly manic on the sideline. Coincidentally or not, the Cats rallied with the calmer John Robic in charge.
Andrew Harrison insisted the change at the bench made no difference.
"No," he said. "We just decided we had to play hard. It had nothing to do with the coaching change or anything like that."
A moment later, a question about Calipari's ejection caused Andrew Harrison to quip, "I would have tossed him, too." As reporters erupted in laughter, he clarified by saying, "He was frustrated like the rest of us. You have to understand."
During the NCAA Tournament, then-UK guard James Young attributed the team's turnaround to Calipari's new-found ability to "chill."
If true, Calipari still can't admit it. The UK coach offered another explanation. "I just got him to 'un-chill,'" he said of Young. "As soon as he 'un-chilled,' we got really good."
Andrew Harrison seemed to confirm Young's observation, although with delicate diplomacy. "I can't really tell you," he said before adding a moment later, "I can understand what James was saying. It was a heated situation."
The game was pivotal for South Carolina, too. The Gamecocks had lost three straight, including a 17-point defeat at home to Georgia and a 16-point defeat at Auburn.
Then South Carolina beat Kentucky in a game then-freshman Sindarius Thornwell likened to a work of fiction. "It's like a movie," he said.
South Carolina more than salvaged its season by winning three of its remaining five games.
"All of a sudden, the belief is back," said sportswriter David Cloninger, who covers the Gamecocks for The State, the daily newspaper in Columbia. "The most hope I've ever seen at the end of a season since I've been covering South Carolina." He's covered South Carolina since the 1996-97 season.
Of course, Kentucky's season also ended with bountiful hope. Looking back, Calipari still seemed surprised that the Kentucky team that lost to South Carolina had advanced to the Final Four.
"I'm amazed we were able to pull it together ... ," he said. "How in the world did we swing it that fast? ... Two weeks later, we're playing out of our minds."
Calipari acknowledged his sideline demeanor did change after the game at South Carolina. But, he insisted the change had nothing to do with discovering it was better to use a lighter touch with the players.
"I had lost an edge for this reason," he said. "I hadn't been able to figure out what was the issue. When I figured out what the issue was, what the two or three things I had to do as a coach, then I was comfortable."
This season's team, though 18-0 and ranked No. 1 in every poll, also has unanswered questions.
"I'm still not sure, offensively, how we need to play with this group," the UK coach said.
Maybe for a second straight season, a game at South Carolina will help Calipari and UK find answers en route to a great story.