Final Four 2012: Kentucky Tops Louisville to Head to Championship Game

Nick NafpliotisCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates defeating the Louisville Cardinals 69-61 during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In what may have been the craziest week of basketball fever in the state of Kentucky's history, it was hard to imagine the actual game between the Wildcats and the Cardinals coming anywhere close to living up to the hype.  But despite the contest not coming down to a buzzer beater, it was an exciting and hard fought war for 40 minutes that ended with a 69-61 Kentucky victory.


The Good

  • Senior Darius Miller was huge off the bench, scoring many of this 13 points at critical moments when Kentucky was lagging offensively.
  • Anthony Davis was his usual amazing self, scoring 18 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking five shots.  When the rest of the team looked like they almost didn't want to rebound the ball on defense (which we will get to in a moment), Davis was constantly scrapping and clawing inside.
  • After a very cold start due to foul trouble, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist came on strong to finish with nine points late in the second half.
  • Just when it looked like Terrence Jones was on the verge of another December-like performance, he came through with some huge rebounds, blocks and baskets in the final 10 minutes of the second half.
  • Louisville was able to mount a very impressive full court press in the closing minutes of the game, but the Cats were repeatedly able to break it with constant motion and a willingness by the big men to get in the back court and help.


The Bad

  • Louisville snagged 16 rebounds compared to only five by the Wildcats.  Aside from Anthony Davis and a late show of aggressiveness by Terrence Jones, the Cats were completely out hustled on the boards.
  • Kentucky shot 55 percent from the free throw line, putting the game in reach for the Cards much longer than it should have been.
  • The Wildcats turned the ball over 14 times compared to only nine assists.


The Weird

  • Louisville forward Chane Behanan claimed that once his team got to the Final Four, winning would be a piece of cake.  I'm guessing Kentucky fans will bring that statement up quite a bit in the years to come.
  • Louisville guard Chris Smith claimed Anthony Davis should be worried about their center, Gorgui Dieng.  While many Kentucky fans (including myself) laughed about this, he actually was surprisingly effective, grabbing 12 rebounds (eight of them on offensive), scoring 7 points and blocking 4 shots.
  • The game featured a large number of offensive fouls called on Kentucky.  As much as I and the rest of Big Blue nation wanted them all to be suspect, many were also the correct call.


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