In a national championship that featured two of college basketball's premier all-time programs, the talent discrepancy between the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats was so great that Jayhawks center Jeff Withey, potentially playing himself into the second round of the NBA Draft in June, gives this team perhaps its second true lock to get drafted. With all due respect to this vastly overachieving Kansas team, the Wildcats proved Monday night that sometimes the world is unfair, and that talent sometimes trumps heart.
Anthony Davis, the miraculous freshman almost assured to leave school and become the No. 1 overall selection, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, even though he failed to connect on a field goal until the 5:10 mark ... of the second half, in Monday night's title game.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, another prodigious 18-year-old destined to be a top-three selection in June, capped off an unspectacular Final Four by averaging 10 points in two games.
Terrence Jones, the highly decorated sophomore forward from Portland, produced a meager stat line of 9 points and 7 rebounds.
But that's just the thing with this Kentucky team. When you have the depth that six potential first-round picks can offer, it doesn't matter if your first, second or even third-best players have subpar nights.
On Monday, it was Kentucky head coach John Calipari's Mr. Dependable, Doron Lamb, who shouldered the scoring load. After scoring 10 points against Louisville Saturday in the national semifinal without a single 3-pointer, the sharp-shooting sophomore nailed 3-6 triples, including two back-to-back in a span of 38 seconds midway through the second half. His clutch shooting extended the floor for Marquis Teague to drive and for Davis to pass out of the block and high post. Davis, who finished with a mere 6 points on 1-10 shooting, also managed to record 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 blocks and 3 steals.
With its 67-59 win over Kansas, the Wildcats officially cap one of the greatest seasons in college basketball history. At 35-2 and ranked No. 1 for most of the season, they shattered the all-time single-season block record. Kidd-Gilchrist reflected that record on a layup that would have cut the deficit to four with under a minute remaining. Davis, the fourth freshmen to win the MOP and the first to have 15 rebounds and 5-plus blocks in the title game, was the team's face alongside the unmistakable Calipari. Coach "Cal," hate him or love him, has captured his first national championship (after taking a record three schools to the Final Four) with this win and, perhaps quelled the immense question marks that he can win the big one.
In an era of supreme parity when mid-major programs including VCU and Butler are making Final Fours with regularity and freshmen are bolting for the NBA, perhaps no team will ever match Indiana's perfect 1976 season under the incomparable Bobby Knight. But then again, there might not be a team with more talent and more importantly, talent achieved, than the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats.
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