MORE KENTUCKY CHAMPIONSHIP COVERAGE ON THE SEC DIGITAL NETWORK
Chris Dortch: Instant Reaction -- Kentucky Wins
AP: Anthony Davis-- No Points Needed
Tim Letcher: Cal's Cats Draw Comparisons To 1996
Ron Higgins: No Deja Voodoo For Calipari
Kentucky Featured On Sports Illustrated Cover
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- No matter where Anthony Davis and his buddies go to make their millions, their ol' Kentucky home will long remember this championship season.
The Wildcats hit the jackpot with their lottery picks Monday night, ignoring Davis' bad shooting night and parlaying a roster full of NBA talent into a 67-59 victory over Kansas for the team's eighth national title -- and its first since 1998.
The one-and-doners did it in a wire-to-wire victory -- a little dicey at the end -- to cap a season in which anything less than bringing a title back to the Bluegrass State would have been a downer. They led coach John Calipari to his first title in four trips to the Final Four with three different schools.
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. 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 the shot isn't falling.
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.
KENTUCKY GIVES SEC ITS 3RD NATIONAL TITLE OF 2011-12; 11th MEN’S BASKETBALL CROWN
With Kentucky winning the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship tonight …
* - So far in 2011-12, the SEC has three national champions – Alabama (football), Florida (men’s indoor track and field) and Kentucky (men’s basketball). An SEC team is currently ranked in the top three in the latest national polls in all of its remaining sponsored sports for the year – gymnastics, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, softball and baseball.
* - In its history, the SEC has won 190 national championships, 113 men’s and 77 women’s titles. Since 2000, the SEC has won 74 national crowns, including 41 men’s titles and 33 women’s titles.
* - The SEC is currently the reigning national champions in the “big three” men’s sports – Football (Alabama), Men’s Basketball (Kentucky) and Baseball (South Carolina). In those sports, the SEC has won 11 national championships during the last six academic years.
* - Since 2006, the SEC has had a national champion in 10 of its 20 sponsored sports – football, men’s basketball, baseball, men’s indoor track and field, women’s swimming and diving, gymnastics, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, men’s swimming and diving and women’s basketball.
* - Eight of the 12 SEC schools have won national championships in the 20 SEC-sponsored sports since Fall 2006. They include: Alabama (football, gymnastics), Auburn (football, men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving), Florida (men’s indoor track, women’s tennis, women’s swimming and diving, football, men’s basketball), Georgia (gymnastics, men’s tennis), Kentucky (men’s basketball), LSU (baseball, football, women’s outdoor track and field), South Carolina (baseball), Tennessee (women’s basketball, women’s indoor track and field)
* - The SEC has now won 11 NCAA men’s basketball tournament titles with Kentucky claiming eight (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996 and 1998). Florida has two (2006, 2007) and Arkansas has one (1994).
* - Since 1993, the SEC has won six men’s basketball national championships – Arkansas (1994), Kentucky (1996), Kentucky (1998), Florida (2006), Florida (2007) and Kentucky (2012). Only the ACC (6) has won as many men’s basketball titles during this time.
* - The SEC has won 29 national championships during the last six academic years, an average of almost five per year.