Kentucky Wildcats: Ranking Best Moments of Wildcats' Run to Championship
The Kentucky Wildcats capped their 38-2, record-breaking season with its eighth national title. Coach John Calipari had his team of first-round draft picks playing cohesive basketball for a team so dynamic they even had the SEC Tournament MVP of last season come off the bench.
While there was no single game that will go down as an instant classic, Kentucky has several moments over the course of the tournament which propelled them forward even while they had a huge bulls-eye on their back.
Here are their top five moments of Kentucky's tournament run.
No. 5: Kentucky Puts Up Triple-Digits Against Indiana
Two of the powerhouse programs in the nation matched up in the Sweet 16 in a rematch of a December game which was won by Indiana. That brought even more hype to this game since Kentucky went on a dominating run after that defeat.
Kentucky, led by their dynamic duo, put a hurting on Indiana in the second half to put the game away once their stars got back on the court due to early foul trouble.
The Wildcats proved the December loss was an anomaly and showed that the presence of Anthony Davis is enough to make the difference.
Putting 102 points on a Sweet 16 team is impressive, and it was their first triple-digit scoring game in the NCAA tournament since 2010.
No. 4: Four Players Score in Double Digits Against Baylor
In the Elite Eight, Kentucky was matched up with the horrendous uniforms of Baylor. Even the players were laughing at the uniforms in the picture above.
The game was much more of a blowout than the 82-70 score that the final would suggest. Kentucky got out to a 16-0 and led by as many as 20 at halftime. Baylor was never able to get within 10 to make this a close contest.
Kentucky had four players score in double-digits, highlighted by Kidd-Gilchrist's 19 points.
This game enabled Kentucky to win the South Regional title and sent them into the Final Four showdown against Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals.
No. 3: Anthony Davis Posterizes Louisville
What would this list be like without at least one appearance from National Player of the Year Anthony Davis?
The 6'10" freshman was a dominating force all season and had a terrific performance in the Final Four round against Louisville with 18 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.
In the final minutes of what turned out to be a low-scoring, defensive-minded matchup, Anthony Davis ran down the lane and received the alley-oop from Kidd-Gilchrist and slammed it down much to the excitement of the crowd.
This effectively put the game away and launched them into the national championship game.
No. 2: Kidd-Gilchrist Blocks Tyshawn Taylor in Final Minute
Despite Kentucky getting out to a remarkably quick start and taking an early 27-12 lead, Kansas did what they were able to do all season: display incredible fight.
The lead was trimmed late in the second half to six points and could have been within closer, when senior guard Tyshawn Taylor drove backdoor on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He seemed to have a unimpeded lane to the basket when the sophomore recovered the swat the layup away.
This was a huge moment in the game, which allowed Kentucky to regroup and maintain their lead.
No. 1: The Final Buzzer
There is no greater feeling than the moment the clock hits 0.0 and victory is no longer simply within reach. The Kentucky Wildcats nearly saw their tremendous first-half lead erased which would've been one of the most historical collapses in a championship game of any sport.
The game was essentially clinched by the five free throws Kentucky was able to make in the waning minutes. Had those shots been missed, perhaps the headlines would be about the failures of Kentucky rather than the performance of Kansas, simply because the game was early out of hand before halftime.
Nevertheless, coach John Calipari was able to lead his superstar team to the school's eighth national title and his first, despite coming close on numerous occasions.