(Getty Images/Jeff Gross)
After knocking off Louisville for a spot in the title game, it was a quick turnaround for the final day of college basketball — thank goodness. Kentucky fans everywhere were anxious for that eighth title, and the Wildcats did not disappoint. Relive those fateful 40 minutes that brought the title back to the Bluegrass.
Kansas’s Tyshawn Taylor made the first bucket, a quick nine seconds into the game. A Jeff Withey block on Terrence Jones down low and a Jones airball from three quickly established some confidence in the Jayhawks.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored the first point of the night for Kentucky from the free-throw line, and started a run into the first TV timeout that had the Cats up 13-9. Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague each found the basket a couple of times and turned the tides early in the Cats favor.
In a little over a three-minute span we would see 15 total points scored, but Kentucky extending its lead to nine points prompting a Bill Self timeout. It proved to be a good one, with Travis Releford knocking down a three just before the second media timeout. Ten minutes through the first half saw Kentucky leading 23-17.
A 6-to-2 run on the heels of Marquis Teague’s point guard work would call for another Self timeout, as the Cats would continue to extend their lead on a pair of Doron Lamb and Darius Miller three-pointers. Before the last media timeout of the half, Kentucky led 37-21 and already celebration thoughts were bouncing though the Wildcats faithful’s heads in Lexington.
Not so fast, my friend! Kansas closed the first half looking strong, and though the Cats led by 14 at the break, the Jayhawks portrayed a little foreshadowing to what the second half would hold in store. Kentucky 41, Kansas 27 at halftime.
Both teams came out of the half a little slow, and after three turnovers in three minutes, Doron Lamb final made the first bucket of the half for the Cats. The first media timeout of the second half came after only four points were scored between the two teams, and a whole lot of ugly, ball-on-the-floor basketball.
Kansas’ own drought continued, due in most part to Kentucky’s stifling man-to-man defense. Coach Calipari said after the game it was likely the key to victory, especially because the score was relatively low for Kentucky. A Terrence Jones slam with just under 15 minutes to go forced Bill Self to call his third timeout.
John Calipari would use his first timeout coming back from this break, after a couple of Kentucky turnovers led to easy fast break points for Kansas. Calipari admitted he let off the throttle just a little bit to use some clock, and that was allowing the Jayhawks back in the game. After the timeout Kansas’ mini-run continued and took us into the second media timeout of the second half with Kentucky’s lead down to ten points, 48-38.
Back-to-back threes from Doron Lamb was seemingly the dagger Kentucky needed to seal the deal, but Kansas’ Elijah Johnson and Tayshawn Taylor had answers, eventually leading their team to cut the double-digit lead down to a manageable deficit.
The final under-four media timeout saw the Jayhawks down nine with Robinson at the line. He would make both to cut the lead to seven. Another pair of free-throws and a three forced Coach Calipari to use a timeout with just over 60 seconds to play with Kentucky leading by six.
Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb would seal it with free throws as Kansas’ last ditch effort to win the game came up well short. Anthony Davis pulled down the final rebound of the game off the Elijah Johnson airball from deep. Fitting that he, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player — a player who scored only six points in the title game — would be the last to touch the ball.
Kentucky: Won and done.