Kentucky Men's Basketball NCAA Championships
Front Row: Coach Adolph Rupp, Johnny Stough, Ralph Beard,
Kenneth Rollins, Cliff Barker, Jr., Dale Barnstable, Asst. Coach Harry Lancaster.
Kentucky 58, Baylor 42
Alex Groza and Ralph Beard combined for 26 points and the Wildcats' defense held the Bears to 16 first-half points to capture UK's first NCAA title.
The title victory enabled the Wildcats to become only the second team ever to win both the NIT and NCAA titles. UK, which finished the season at 34-2, won the NIT title in 1946.
Paced by Groza and Beard, the Wildcats turned a 29-16 halftime lead into a 44-28 bulge midway through the second half. After Baylor rallied to cut the lead to 11, UK put the game out of reach as Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones scored four points to give the Wildcats a 15-point lead.
In addition to Groza and Beard, the Wildcats also got nine points apiece from Jones and Kenneth Rollins.
Front Row: Coach Adolph Rupp, Jim Line, Cliff Barker, John
Stough, Ralph Beard, Joe Hall, Garland Townes, Assistant Coach Harry Lancaster.
Kentucky 46, Oklahoma A&M 36
Paced by Alex Groza's 25 points and a defense that limited the Aggies to a mere nine field goals, the Wildcats were crowned NCAA Champions for the second straight year.
Groza, a unanimous selection as the "Player of the Tournament," scored more than twice as many points as any other player. A&M's Jack Shelton was the game's only other player to score in double figures. He finished with 12 points.
The Aggies, coached by Hank Iba, led 5-2, but the Wildcats scored seven straight points, five by Groza, and never trailed again as they took a 25-20 first-half lead.
UK extended the lead to 31-21 early in the second half and coasted the rest of the way.
Standing: Frank Ramsey, Shelby Linville, Bill Spivey, Roger
Layne, Lou Tsioropoulos, Read Morgan.
Kentucky 68, Kansas State 58
With a squad consisting of only six healthy players - Walt Hirsch was ineligible and Hagan was plagued by an infected throat - the Wildcats hardly looked like championship material as Kansas State broke out to a 20-12 lead.
It was then that Rupp inserted the ailing Hagan. It was a move that may have proved the difference as the freshman forward sparked a rally that saw UK cut the Kansas State lead to 29-27 at the half.
Led by Hagan and Spivey, who dominated the boards, UK outscored Kansas State 41-29 in the second half to complete the come-from-behind victory.
Front Row: Coach Adolph Rupp, Adrian Smith, John Crigler, Ed Beck,
Don Mills, Johnny Cox, Vernon Hatton, Assistant Coach Harry Lancaster.
Kentucky 84, Seattle 72
Led by Hatton and Johnny Cox, who finished with 24 points, the Wildcats twice battled back from 11-point deficits to gain the victory.
Trailing for much of the game, UK grabbed its first lead with 6:08 left when Don Mills hit a hook shot to give the Wildcats a 61-60 lead. Moments later, Cox hit a jump shot to make it 63-60 and UK never trailed again.
John Crigler added 14 points and 14 rebounds for the victors. Mills and Adrian Smith finished with nine and seven points, respectively.
Aside from Baylor, Seattle received 17 points from Charley Brown and 16 from Jerry Frizzell.
Front Row: Coach Joe Hall, Jay Shidler, Dwane Casey, Kyle
Macy, Jack Givens, Tim Stephens, Chris Gettelfinger, Truman Claytor, Assistant
Coach Dick Parsons.
Kentucky 94, Duke 88
With many Kentucky fans among the crowd of 18,271 chanting "Goose, Goose," Givens scored 41 points, three short of the record for a championship game, to help the Wildcats to their fifth NCAA title and first in 20 years.
Givens' dominance was clearly evident in the first half as he scored 23 points, including UK's last 16 of the half, to turn a 29-28 UK lead into a 45-38 cushion. It was a deficit from which the Blue Devils would not recover.
Overall, Givens made 18 of 27 field goal attempts, five of eight free throws and added eight rebounds and three assists.
Kentucky 76, Syracuse 67
Delk, the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, canned seven of 12 three-pointers to lead the Cats with 24 points. But after Syracuse had cut the lead to two, 64-62, with 4:46 remaining, a Delk misfire was tipped in by Walter McCarty to extend UK's lead to four. After holding the Orangemen on the next possession, Derek Anderson drained a three to push the lead to seven. SU would get no closer than five in the final minutes.
Delk was joined on the Final Four All-Tournament team by freshman Ron Mercer, who was sensational off the bench, scoring a career-high 20 points on 8-12 shooting from the field, including 3-4 from three-point range.
Kentucky 78, Utah 69
Utah was propelled to the early lead thanks to a 24-6 rebounding advantage in the first half. But Heshimu Evans sparked the "Comeback Cats" off the bench with seven straight points early in the second half. Later, Final Four Most Outstanding Player Jeff Sheppard canned a baseline jumper with 4:54 remaining to give UK a 65-64 lead. The exhausted Utes then missed 11 consecutive field goals as the Wildcats claimed their second NCAA Championship in three years.
Scott Padgett joined Sheppard on the All-Final Four team after scoring 17 points. UK outrebounded the Utes 18-15 in the second half.
Kentucky 67, Kansas 59
Won and Done, indeed. Maybe even Over and Out.
All that really matters is that Kentucky parlayed a roster full of NBA talent into a 67-59 victory Monday night over Kansas for the team's eighth national NCAA basketball title - its first since 1998.
Kentucky's top freshman, Anthony Davis, had a rough shooting night, but John Calipari coached this team to a wire-to-wire victory - a little dicey at the end - to cap a season that cried for no less than a championship for their ol' Kentucky home.
"I wanted everybody to see, we were the best team this season," said the coach who finally has the championship that eluded him for all these years. "We were the best team. I wanted this to be one for the ages."
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, earning the nod as the most outstanding player. 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.
"Well, it's not me, it's these guys behind me," Davis said after his 1-for-10 performance. "They led us this whole tournament. This whole game I was struggling offensively, and I told my team, every time down, you all score the ball; I'm just gonna defend and rebound."
So much easier when you've got teammates like this. Davis is the likely first pick in the draft, though he said he hasn't decided yet whether he will 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.
"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."
Kansas also has a lottery pick in AP All-American Thomas Robinson. He was harassed all night by Davis and Jones and finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds on a 6-for-17 shooting night. He left upset, though not overly impressed with Davis, who he'll certainly see in "the association" over the next several years.
"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."
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 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.
Even so, it wasn't a bad season in Lawrence, 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.
"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."
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.
"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."
Davis realized early this was no shoot-first night for him at the Superdome, and Calipari all but told him to cool it at halftime.
"I said, `Listen to me, don't you go out there and try to score,"' the coach said.
The freshman listened. Sporting his near-unibrow, which the UK Wildcat mascot also decided to paste on, he endured the worst shooting night of a short college career in which he makes 64 percent. No big deal. He set the tone early on defense, swatting Robinson's shot twice, grabbing rebounds, making pretty bounce passes for assists.
Early in the second half, he made a steal that also could have been an assist, knocking the ball out of Robinson's hands and directly to Jones, who dunked for a 46-30 lead.
Then, finally. With 5:13 left in the game, he spotted up for a 15-foot jumper from the baseline that swished for a 59-44 lead, putting a dagger in one of Kansas' many comebacks.
"He was terrific," Self said. "The basket he made was one of the biggest baskets of the game."
The crowd, a little more full of Kentucky fans than Kansas, went crazy. If this guy only stays one year and only makes one shot, they're fine with that.
It's the new normal at Kentucky, where Adolph Rupp set a standard, Rick Pitino lived up to it for a while, then Calipari - hardly the buttoned-down type - was hired to bring back the glory.
He goes for the best player, no matter what their long-term goals.
Normally, the prospect of losing all those players in one swoop would have people thinking about a tough rebuilding year.
But Cal has mastered the art of rebuilding on the fly.
He's the coach who brings in the John Walls, Brandon Knights and Derrick Roses (at Memphis) for cups of coffee, lets them sharpen up their resumes, then happily says goodbye when it becomes obvious there's nothing left for them to do in school.
Last year, the formula resulted in a trip to the Final Four that ended with a crushing loss to Connecticut in the semifinals.
This year, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist and the rest came to Lexington with big-time bona-fides, and they didn't disappoint. Kentucky lost only twice all season - once on a buzzer-beater at Indiana, the second time last month in the SEC tournament title game to Vanderbilt, in the arena across the way from the Superdome.
That trip to New Orleans might have been, as Calipari put it, just what the doctor ordered for a team that could sometimes border on arrogance.
They rebounded nicely for the real tournament, and through it all, the coach refused to apologize for the way he recruits or how he runs his program. Just playing by the rules as they're set up, he says, even if he doesn't totally agree with them. Because he refuses to promise minutes or shots to any recruit and demands teamwork out of all of them, he says he comes by these players honestly.
He has produced nine first-round picks in the last four drafts with a few more coming. This latest group will have an NCAA title in tow and the everlasting love of a fan base that bleeds basketball.
When it was over, all that Kentucky talent ran to the corner of the court, got in a group huddle and jumped up and down like the kids they really are. Will Calipari coach any of them again?
"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."