Kentucky and Kansas to Battle for NCAA Championship

  • March 31, 2012, 11:26 PM


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Bragging rights in the Bluegrass State are mighty nice.

Kentucky has its sights set higher. Much higher.

Anthony Davis and top-seeded Kentucky are right where they planned to be all along, playing for the national title after finally putting away pesky Louisville 69-61 in the Final Four on Saturday night.

"I have a team that's had teams come at them all year," coach John Calipari said, "and they responded again today."

It will be Kentucky's first appearance in the title game since winning a seventh NCAA crown back in 1998 and it gives Calipari another shot at the championship that has eluded him. The Wildcats (37-2) will face No. 2 seed Kansas, a 64-62 winner over Ohio State in the second semifinal.

As the final seconds ticked down, Davis pointed to the court and screamed twice, "This is my stage!"

Yes, yes, it is.

With a star-studded roster that includes at least three, maybe as many as five NBA lottery picks, Kentucky was the top seed in the tournament and the heavy favorite to cut down the nets when the whole tournament was done. And Calipari wouldn't let his young players consider anything else, saying repeatedly this was "just another game."

But playing in-state rival Louisville (30-10) is never just that, and the Cardinals made Kentucky work deep into the second half to grind this victory out.

Louisville outrebounded Kentucky 40-33, including a whopping 19-6 advantage on the offensive glass - the sole reason the Cardinals were able to make a game of this.

"To tell you the truth, I haven't always liked some of the Kentucky teams. I'm not going to lie to you," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who counts as something of an expert after spending eight years in Lexington and the last 11 with the Cardinals. "But I really like this team a lot because of their attitude and the way they play.




NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Same story, new night for Kansas. The team that's been teetering on the edge of the tournament since before it even began is now one of the last two left.

Tyshawn Taylor made two big free throws late, and Thomas Robinson finished with 19 points and eight rebounds Saturday night to lift the Jayhawks to a come-from-behind 64-62 win over Ohio State in the Final Four - a game Kansas led for a grand total of 3 minutes, 48 seconds.

After scoring the first bucket, Kansas didn't lead again until Travis Releford made two free throws with 2:48 left. That lasted for 11 seconds, but the Jayhawks (32-6), who trailed by as many as 13, overcame another deficit and finally held on against the Buckeyes (31-8).

Taylor's two free throws with 8.3 seconds left gave Kansas a 64-61 lead, matching its biggest of the game. The Jayhawks intentionally fouled Aaron Craft with 2.9 seconds left. Craft made the first, then quickly clanked the second one off the front of the rim but was called for a lane violation.

Kansas dribbled out the clock and celebrated a win that played out sort of the way the whole season has in Lawrence.

"It was two different games," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "They dominated us the first half. We were playing in quicksand it looked like. And the light came on. We were able to play through our bigs; we were able to get out and run, but the biggest thing is we got stops."

Early in the year, Self wondered if this team was even tournament material. The Jayhawks trailed most of the night against Purdue in the second round and were no better than North Carolina until pulling away late in the regional final.

One win. Then another. This latest one came on the biggest stage - in the Superdome. Next, a meeting Monday with Kentucky and a chance to bring the second title in five years back to Allen Fieldhouse.

The game will be a coaching rematch between Self and John Calipari, who was coaching Memphis in 2008 when the Tigers missed four free throws down the stretch and blew a nine-point lead in an overtime loss to Mario Chalmers and the Jayhawks.

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This whole tournament ive been wondering why L'ville is playing in orange

same here

Me too.

ugh im so mad i love ohio state their my team!!!!! :( also i really hate kansas so kentucky all the wayyyyyy.

p.s is it just me or is anthony davis really ugly?

cool not me i dont really like basketball

I am rooting for NOBODY to win cuz I Hate UK and Kansas

P.S. It's not just you about Anthony Davis

Kentucky is beast I want Kentucky to win so badly

im in with quarterbackstopper2 i really really super wanted ohio state to win!

Kentucky is giant! They are going all the way!
Kansas is always is good in everything. I was hoping Ohio State could knock off Kansas.

I wanted ohio state to win so bad. I never liked Kansas in any sport

i don't know who to go for my grandpa used to play for kansas but i love kentucky

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