The Kentucky Wildcats Beat the Kansas Jayhawks to Win Their Eighth and John Calipari’s First National Title
BY: Dic Humphrey
@DicHumphrey on twitter
The Kentucky Wildcats steamrolled Kansas Monday night 67-59, in a game that wasn’t as close as that score indicates. This win marks the eighth National Championship in school history. The Wildcats took control of the game early, led by 14 at the half, and was only challenged late in the second half, after leading by 15 points with less than five minutes to play. It was a rock-em, sock-em game, loosely called by the officials and played at a frenetic pace. There was no question that the Kentucky Wildcats had the better talent. Monday night, the Kentucky Wildcats came to play and left no doubt they are the best team in college basketball this year.
The game started at an absolutely blinding pace of play. Both teams raced the ball up the court and shot early in the shot clock. Kentucky ran out to a lead of 23-14 in just over nine minutes. Two minutes later, they extended that lead into double digits at 27-17. With 6:30 left until halftime, Kansas faced the largest deficit they’ve seen in the tournament – 15 points at 34-19. At the half the score was 41-27, the largest halftime deficit for the Jayhawks this year.
Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari was asked what impressed him the most about his team in the first half, and he told the CBS audience, “Our DEFENSE!” Indeed, his team had blocked shots and created turnovers to not only keep Kansas off the scoreboard, but to fuel the Kentucky Wildcat’s offense.
Kansas didn’t go down without a fight in the second half. The Jayhawks came out of the halftime locker room with good energy. They seemed to have momentum when they cut the lead to 10 at 46-36. However, they were unable to get the margin below 10 points until just over four minutes were left in the game. They did so as part of an 8-0 run in barely a minute of elapsed time on the game clock. They later cut the lead to five with 1:30 left in the game.
However, that was as close as Kansas got. The Kentucky Wildcats made enough free throws to hold off the Jayhawks for the win, the first national championship for the winningest program in college basketball history in 14 years.
Kentucky’s Doron Lamb led all scorers with 22 points. Kansas was so determined to keep national player of the year Anthony Davis from hurting them, that other Kentucky players were open. Davis scored just six points, though he had 16 rebounds, led the Kentucky Wildcats with five assists, and blocked six shots. He was named the tournament’s MOP – Most Outstanding Player. Marquis Teague (14) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11) were also double-digit scorers for Kentucky.
For Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor led with 19 points followed by 18 from Thomas Robinson, who also had a game high 17 rebounds for a spectacular double-double, and 13 from Elijiah Johnson.
Kansas coach Bill Self was asked about the difference in the game, and replied, “They’re good!” He was right. This Kansas team has nothing to be ashamed about for their showing.
It was Kentucky Wildcat’s coach John Calipari’s first national championship after taking teams from Memphis and UMASS to the final four. He has always been able to recruit top talent, players such as Derek Rose, Marcus Camby, and Tyreke Evans in the past. Coaching players of that caliber to play team basketball is an art, and Calipari is the master.