Kentucky caps off dominating season with national titleDoron Lamb scored 22 points, and Kentucky won its eighth national championship, holding off Kansas for a 67-59 victory Monday night.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Doron Lamb scored 22 points, and Kentucky won its eighth national championship, holding off Kansas for a 67-59 victory Monday night.
The Wildcats (38-2) led by as many as 18 points in the first half and were still up 15 with 5:13 to play. Kansas (32-7), a team which rallied from several big deficits this season, was able to get as close as 62-57 with 1:37 to play.
Kentucky closed the game by making five of seven free throws over the final 1:11 and that set off quite a celebration in the Superdome.
Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, only the second freshmen to be selected national player of the year, had six points on 1-of-10 shooting but finished with 16 rebounds and tied the championship-game record with six blocks.
Tyshawn Taylor had 19 points for the Jayhawks, and All-America Thomas Robinson had 18 on 6-of-17 shooting and had 17 rebounds.
The Wildcats’ 41-27 halftime lead was one of the biggest in title game history. North Carolina had a 21-point lead over Michigan State in 2009.
Kentucky’s last title came in 1998 and that year the Wildcats set the record for largest halftime deficit overcome, rallying from a 41-31 deficit to beat Utah 78-69. Kansas couldn’t get that record.
Kentucy had too muc.
It helps when you’ve got teammates like this. Davis is the likely first pick in the draft should he choose to come out, 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.
Kansas also has a lottery pick in AP All-American Thomas Robinson. But he was harassed all night by Davis and Jones and finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds on a frustrating evening nonetheless.
The Jayhawks won the “B” League this year, as Calipari avenged a final-game loss to Bill Self back in 2008 when Cal was coaching the Tigers. Not a bad season in Lawrence, though, considering where KU began.
Kansas lost four of its top five scorers off last year’s roster.
There were times early in the season when Self and his old buddy and mentor, Larry Brown, would stand around at practices and wonder if this was a team that could even make the tournament. It did. Won its eighth straight conference title, too.
None of this, however, was for the faint of heart. The Jayhawks trailed by double digits in three of their five tournament games leading to the final and played every game down to the wire. They fell behind by 18 late in the first half of this one and this time, there was no big comeback to be made; not against these guys.