Talented Kentucky Wildcats Win With the Pros

Talented Kentucky Wildcats Win With the Pros

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Future NBAA pros vanquish the Kansas Jayhawks.

I will admit when I am wrong: I picked Kansas to beat Kentucky for the NCAA men’s national championship and they did not. Instead, Kentucky’s NBA-bound talent put on a show against Bill Self’s team as John Calipari brought the University of Kentucky its eighth championship, its first since 1998.

Clearly, I knew my prediction was in trouble in the national semifinals as Kentucky vanquished Louisville and Kansas slipped past Ohio State. At that point the stage was set for the Wildcats to pounce on the Jayhawks something they did from the game’s opening tip enroute to a 14-point half-time lead.

NBA Stars

Calipari’s genius was on display all season as the legendary coach put together a team with a star freshman, Anthony Davis, and an NBA-bound sophomore, Doron Lamb who decided to avoid the pro league’s lock out and come back for a year. Four other players Terrence Jones, Darius Miller, Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist each figured in to UK’s success, offering the best balance of any team in college basketball this year. Indeed, as ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan noted, Calipari carefully ensured that no player averaged more than 11 shots per game, making it virtually impossible for opponents to stop the entire team. Indeed, Kentucky’s 16-0 romp through the regular season was hardly tarnished with a loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament final. That loss was not expected, but it seemed to prepare the Wildcats for its 6-0 run through the NCAA tournament, winning big in the earlier games and doing so with precision and certainty the rest of the way.

Against Kansas, U.K. overcame poor shooting by Davis who scored just 6 points, but pulled down 16 rebounds, offering just compensation that had his players calling him the biggest factor of the game. With five assists, three steals and six blocked shots, Davis’ 1 for 10 shooting quickly faded as he stepped up elsewhere. Lamb’s 22 points and Teague’s 14 points paced the Wildcats even as Kidd-Gilchrist was not able to add to the 11 points he scored in the first half.

Jayhawk Strength

Give Kansas credit for two things — getting as far as they did with a depleted team and rallying back from 16 points down with 10 minutes left to narrow the lead to just five points. Late free throw shooting from UK clinched the win, but the Jayhawks made it interesting when the game clearly could have been long over. Thomas Robinson scored 18 points and pulled down 17 rebounds for the Jayhawks and will likely be a top NBA draft pick. And it wasn’t sour grapes when he said that Anthony Davis wasn’t “superman” while acknowledging that this UK freshman has NBA qualities. Both players will likely face off on the next level unless some team is lucky enough to sign each.

Calipari told ESPN immediately following the game that he expected all six of his stars to go to the NBA next year. That means he’ll start his recruiting on Friday, just after the state of Kentucky welcomes home its national champion.

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