The Kentucky Wildcats ended the Louisville Cardinals' season, and with it, another chapter in this bitter rivalry. Louisville fans will have to listen to the loud and proud 'Cat fans boast about owning bragging rights for yet another year.
However, that's not what John Calipari and his team are concerned about.
Kentucky has seemingly been on a roll since the beginning of the season, and it didn't stop Saturday night.
Kentucky missed their line by a point, but was able to advance to their eleventh national championship, passing Duke for second all time (UCLA has 13). Anthony Davis, the AP's SEC Player of the Year, hauled in 15 rebounds while shooting 7-of-8 from the field for 18 points.
Davis wasn't the only hot hand.
Kentucky shot over 57 percent from the field, their fourth time over the 50 percent mark during the 2012 tourney. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shot 4-of-6 for a below-average total of nine points due to foul trouble, but that didn't stop the 'Cats offense. Darius Miller chipped in a much needed 13 points in 29 minutes, including a key three-pointer late in the second half, while Doron Lamb put in 10 of his own.
If I told you Kentucky shot over 57 percent from the field, blocked seven shots, and managed seven steals, you would think it was just another dominant performance.
The Cards, however, stayed in the game.
Peyton Siva knocked down a game-tying three with 9:13 left in the second half, only to be followed by back to back Michael Kidd-Gilchrist baskets inside. Pitino quickly called a timeout, but it didn't stop the bleeding; Kentucky quickly reeled off a 7-2 run of their own, gaining control for good.
Siva's 11 points wasn't enough to overcome a tough shooting night from Russ Smith (4-of-15), who wasn't able to match his 24-point performance in the first Kentucky-Louisville matchup back on Dec. 31.
Despite a tough night shooting, Louisville pushed Kentucky deeper into the second half than they are accustomed to. Sixteen offensive rebounds definitely helped the cause.
Rick Pitino's squad just could not capitalize on all the extra opportunities. Anthony Davis had five blocks alone, as the stifling Wildcat defense held the Louisville offense to a meager 34.8 percent shooting from the field.
Rick Pitino and his neon-orange colored bunch made a very special run in the 2012 NCAA tournament before facing what has been a thorn in their side for 99 years.
With Kentucky's Final Four victory on Saturday, they pushed their series and rivalry edge to 30-14, and 3-2 in the Big Dance.
In the end, the Kentucky defense was too fast and too physical for the Cardinals to execute offensively, giving us a NCAA championship between long time basketball heavyweights Kansas and Kentucky.
A perfect ending, to the madness of March.
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