Won and Done, indeed. Maybe even Over and Out. All that really matters is Kentucky parlayed a roster full of NBA talent into a 67-59 victory Monday night over Kansas for the team’s eighth NCAA basketball title — its first since 1998.
Kentucky’s top freshman, Anthony Davis, had a rough shooting night, but John Calipari coached this team to a wire-to-wire victory — a little dicey at the end — to cap a season that cried for no less than a championship for the Wildcats’ ol’ Kentucky home.
“I wanted everybody to see, we were the best team this season,” said the coach, who finally has the championship that eluded him all those years. “We were the best team. I wanted this to be one for the ages.”
The Wildcats brought the controversial John Calipari to Kentucky to deliver wins. The risk paid off with a national title reward, Dana O’Neil writes.
Anthony Davis produced only six points on 1-for-10 shooting against Kansas but guaranteed the Wildcats’ win with his performance, Myron Medcalf writes. John Calipari said back in August that Doron Lamb was UK’s best basketball player. The shooter proved his coach’s point Monday, Andy Katz writes. Against expectations, the Jayhawks clawed back throughout the season and in the final game, so they can be proud of 2011-12, Jason King writes. How did Kentucky get here, hoisting the national championship trophy in New Orleans? The answer is more than talent, Eamonn Brennan writes.
Doron Lamb, a sophomore with first-round-draft-pick possibilities, led the Wildcats (38-2) with 22 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers that put them up by 16 with 10 minutes left. The Jayhawks (32-7), kings of the comeback all season, fought to the finish and trimmed that deficit to five with 1:37 left. But Kentucky made five free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Davis’ fellow lottery prospect Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was another headliner, creating space for himself to score all 11 of his points in the first half.
Davis, meanwhile, might have had the most dominating six-point night in the history of college basketball, earning the nod as the most outstanding player. He finished with 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three steals — and made his only field goal with 5:13 left in the game. It was a surefire illustration of how the 6-foot-10 freshman can exert his will on a game even on a rare night when his shot isn’t falling.
“Well, it’s not me, it’s these guys behind me,” Davis said after his 1-for-10 performance. “They led us this whole tournament. This whole game, I was struggling offensively, and I told my team, every time down, you all score the ball; I’m just gonna defend and rebound.”
So much easier when you’ve got teammates like this. Davis is the likely first pick in the draft, although he said he hasn’t decided yet whether he will leave college, and Kidd-Gilchrist won’t be far behind. Another first-round prospect, freshman Marquis Teague, had 14 points. And yet another, sophomore Terrence Jones, had nine points, seven rebounds and two of Kentucky’s 11 blocked shots.