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UK misses out on NCAA Tournament field

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After a long two days of waiting, the Kentucky Wildcats received the news they were hoping to avoid on Sunday evening.

For just the second time in 22 seasons, UK was left out of the NCAA Tournament field when brackets were announced on the Selection Show. UK last missed the tournament in 2009, the year before John Calipari's arrival as head coach.

The tension lasted until the final moment, as the second play-in game featuring at-large teams was saved until the final bracket. But when Boise State and La Salle appeared as No. 13 seeds in the West Region, it was clear the Cats would not be included.

Positioned to likely clinch a bid with a victory over Vanderbilt on Friday night, the Cats (21-11) instead left their fate in the hands of the selection committee. They were then disappointed to learn they would not be a part of the Big Dance in spite of a resume that matched up well with fellow bubble teams.

Along with Boise State and La Salle, the final at-large teams to make the field were Middle Tennessee State and St. Mary's. Selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski, in joining the Selection Show broadcast, was asked about the inclusion of Middle Tennessee State, a team that had just one victory against teams ranked in the RPI's top 100. Bobinski revealed that the "deciding factor in a lot of those cases" was performance away from home.

"The difference between Middle Tennessee and some of the other (bubble teams) really in our mind was the ability to win on the road," Bobinski said.

UK was 4-7 in true road games this season, but winless in three tries after losing Nerlens Noel to injury. MTSU was 9-3, Boise State 5-9, La Salle 8-6 and St. Mary's 9-2.

The Cats will now turn their attention to the NIT. The NIT Selection Show will air at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.

UPDATE: Coach Cal tweeted his thoughts on UK missing the tournament on Sunday night. Here's what he had to say.

"I'm really disappointed we didn't make the NCAA Tournament but we are going to use this time to make us better. We had our chances, but I'm not going to stop. It's a great lesson for the future of our program (and) a humbling experience for me as a coach. To the (Big Blue Nation), you did your part all season long. You showed up in droves and helped us pull through key games. We didn't do our part. Even now, I'm going to coach these guys, try to make them better (and) give everything I can to make sure we control our destiny in the future."

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