Brian Graham, KC SportsNation
Josh Campos will offer up his thoughts on the game and the season tomorrow in another Campos Commentary.
Make that 0-3.
Kansas has now played in three Final Four’s in New Orleans, and has not won a title in any of them.
It was a typical KU game as they fell behind early, and then rallied, but this time Kentucky’s talent, featuring a starting lineup of five future NBA freshmen and sophomores, was too much as Kansas (32-7), in their 14th Final Four, fell 67-59 in a matchup of the two winningest programs in college basketball history.
Kentucky looked like they were going to cruise, leading by 18 points twice in the first half before Kansas trailed 41-27 at halftime. KU trailed 59-44 before pulling within’ 62-57 with 1:37 left, but ran out of time as Kentucky sealed it with five free throws down the stretch.
Thomas Robinson was a beast – like he has been all season for KU – scoring 18 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in what was his last game, as head coach Bill Self said, “it’s done” when asked about his status after the game.
He was not overly impressed with Kentucky freshman phenom and likely No. 1 draft pick Anthony “uni-brow” Davis.
“He’s not Superman,” Robinson said. “He’s just a great player. I don’t mean to be disrespectful by it, but as a competitor, I’m not going to sit here and give all my praise to someone I go up against.”
Davis was as dominant as any one person can be in making just one shot, yanking down 16 rebounds and blocking six shots for Kentucky, who finished 38-2 finishing the season the same place they began it – No. 1.
“I wanted everybody to see, we were the best team this season,” John Calipari said after leading Kentucky to their first title since 1998. “We were the best team. I wanted this to be one for the ages.”
Davis earned Most Outstanding Player honors despite just scoring six points.
“I love the fact Anthony Davis goes 1-for-10, and you all say he was biggest factor of game,” Calipari said. “He was 1-for-10. I asked these guys what they would do without scoring. You have an idea what he does.”
ESPN National Championship Blog: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis leaves mark
Doron Lamb led all scorers with 22 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers that put them up by 16 with 10 minutes left.
ESPN College Basketball Nation Blog: Lamb finishes season with Lion-Like effort
Calipari avenged a final-game loss to Bill Self back in 2008 when Calipari was coaching Memphis. The Tigers missed four late free throws in blowing a nine-point lead in that one. Kansas didn’t get any such help this time.
Kansas lost four of its top five scorers from a year ago and lost its most talented player Ben McLemore due to academic ineligibility. Yet, they began the year in the Top 15 and despite Self’s wonders if Kansas would even make the NCAA Tournament, the Hawks turned into a grinder and won its eighth straight conference title en route to a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a trip to the Final Four.
“Nobody even expected us to be here in the first place, for us to have a great season,” KU guard Travis Releford said. “And we did. We were able to compete for a championship. We had a great year.”
ESPN National Championship Blog: Jayhawks keep their heads high in defeat
Kansas lived on the edge all tournament, leading only once at halftime – in the first-rounder against Detroit, trailing from double-digits down in three of their five tournament wins.
“We knew coming in that we had been in situations like that before,” Releford said. “We played like that all year. We figured we’d come out in the second half and run how we did. It just wasn’t good enough.”
But, Kentucky is too good to fall behind by 15-plus points to.
Calipari has perfected the One-and-Done formula, where he went to the 2008 title game against Self in Kansas with one-year player Derrick Rose and last year went to the Final Four with with three freshmen starters and started three freshman this year.
“What I’m hoping is there are six first-rounders on this team,” the coach said. “I’m fine with that. That’s why I’ve got to go recruiting on Friday.”
ESPN National Championship Blog: John Calipari leads Kentucky to National Championship
|Thomas Robinson, F||36||6-17||0-0||6-7||5||17||1||0||0||1||2||18|
|Jeff Withey, C||32||2-8||0-0||1-1||3||7||1||2||4||1||2||5|
|Tyshawn Taylor, G||36||8-17||1-1||2-3||1||4||3||1||0||5||1||19|
|Travis Releford, G||30||1-6||1-2||1-2||0||1||1||1||0||0||5||4|
|Elijah Johnson, G||36||5-13||3-7||0-0||1||2||2||1||0||2||1||13|
|Conner Teahan, G||17||0-1||0-1||0-0||0||0||1||1||0||0||1||0|
|Kevin Young, F||11||0-0||0-0||0-2||0||3||0||0||1||0||4||0|
|Justin Wesley, F||2||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Terrence Jones, F||29||4-7||0-1||1-2||1||7||0||1||2||2||4||9|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F||35||4-7||0-1||3-4||2||6||1||0||1||1||2||11|
|Doron Lamb, G||35||7-12||3-6||5-6||1||2||3||0||0||1||2||22|
|Anthony Davis, F||36||1-10||0-0||4-6||4||16||5||3||6||3||2||6|
|Marquis Teague, G||34||5-14||2-3||2-3||1||2||3||0||0||2||2||14|
|Eloy Vargas, F||3||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Darius Miller, G||25||2-5||1-2||0-0||1||6||0||0||2||2||2||5|
|Kyle Wiltjer, F||3||0-1||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Officials: Verne Harris, Mark Whitehead, Mike Stuart
Rock Chalk Talk: A memorable journey for a memorable team
Rock Chalk Talk: A statistical recap of Kentucky
SI.com (Andy Glockner): Though he insists otherwise, Kentucky’s championship all about John Calipari
The Dagger: With its first title in the Calipari Era secured, what will Kentucky look like in 2012-13? (Hint: Again a contender)