Kentucky completed a dominating NCAA Tournament run, even by the traditionally high standard of the university's men's basketball program by beating Kansas, 67-59, on Monday night to claim its eighth national championship.
It also was the first title at Kentucky for coach John Calipari.
We're not just a talented team, Calipari was quoted as saying by the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. We're a defensive team and a team that shares the ball.
We were the best team, the coach said, exulting in Monday's victory in New Orleans.
The Wildcats survived a rough night shooting by their most talented of freshmen, Anthony Davis, to capture their first NCAA crown since 1998.
Davis, who became only the fourth freshman voted the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, didn't make a basket until 5:12 left in the game, finishing with six points.
But he pulled down 16 rebounds, giving him 30 in the Final Four, which was the most since Hakeem Olajuwon grabbed 40 in 1983. Davis also blocked six shots, giving him a season total of 186 - an NCAA record for freshmen.
Kansas, which had rallied from 13 points down to beat Ohio State in one of two semifinal games Saturday, staged the kind of second-half comeback for which it's become famous. The Jayhawks reduced a one-time 18-point Kentucky lead to 62-57 with 1:37 left.
We got the game to what we wanted, Kansas coach Bill Self said of the second half. A muddy track.
Calipari, who has made a habit of recruiting stars out of high school and letting them pursue pro careers after their freshman year, was already preparing to hit the road in search of talent. Davis is among the so-called one-and-done (or won and done) NBA-bound players Calipari will be seeking to replace.
What I'm hoping is there are six first-rounders on this team, the Kentucky coach said, referring to the NBA draft. I'm fine with that. That's why I've got to go recruiting on Friday.