Kentucky's fabulous freshmen KO'd by Mountaineers

Updated: March 27, 2010, 11:31 PM ET
Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Shortly after DeMarcus Cousins talked about how much fun he had this season, the stunning finality of the Wildcats' loss suddenly hit him.

"It hurts. And the part that hurts the most is that we'll never get a chance to play with each other again," Cousins said, wiping his face after West Virginia beat the No. 1-seeded Wildcats 73-66 in Saturday's East Regional final.

"That's the part that's killing me the most," Cousins added. "I'll never be able to play with my teammates, my brothers, again."

It might be time to start saying goodbye to John Calipari's fabulous freshmen, and probably junior forward Patrick Patterson, too.

The next stop for Cousins, Patterson and flashy freshman guard John Wall might well be the NBA.

And in a year in which Wall and Cousins played a big role in transforming the Wildcats into winners again, they finished on the bench. Wall fouled out with 51 seconds left and finished with 19 points. Cousins, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, was on the sideline for the final three minutes because the team needed outside shooters.

"I didn't want it to stop," Wall said. "I'm sad and disappointed we didn't make it as far as our goals."

Neither wanted to talk about the future.

"I'm not worried about the talk of what I'm doing next," Wall said. "I'm going to sit back and enjoy the rest of my college year with my teammates and finish the rest of the school year out."

Both already have indicated they intend to enter the NBA after only one college season. Wall is pegged as a potential No. 1 pick, and the 6-foot-11 Cousins is projected to go in the first round.

Though Patterson was noncommittal after the game, the 6-9 forward did consider entering the draft last year. On Friday, he spoke at length Friday about approaching every game like it's his last in college.

It was a stunning end for the 35-2 Wildcats, who 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. And the bench didn't look much happier as players sat with their chins in their hands.

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.

"I never wanted to think of this feeling," Cousins said. "I wish I could just wake up from a bad dream. But this is real."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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