Kentucky did more than win there 8th championship Monday after defeating Kansas. They did something else, they earned redemption.
Who knew that a 14-foot 'free' shot could be the difference between two national titles and 0?
Kentucky Basketball Head Coach John Calipari does.
It's been an all too familiar sight for him. His teams failing to win the big game due to poor free shooting down the stretch, once in 2011 and once in 2008 with Memphis. Labeling him a choke and bad coach.
This time it was different.
Kentucky shot 72 percent from the line. Calipari and his team gained something more than a eighth title, after their 67-59 victory over Kansas in Monday's NCAA championship game at the Superdome. They gained redemption.
Calipari had seen this before. Four years ago, it looked inevitable, his Memphis Tigers would win the 2008 national title game against Kansas. Memphis had built a 60-51 lead with just under 2:00 minutes remaining, but saw their lead taken away due to poor free throw shooting.
Kentucky led comfortably throughout the game, only to see an 18-point lead shrink to just six with just 1:11 remaining, eerily similar to the situation in previous battle against Bill Self in the title game. But instead of going 1-5 from the line in the last two minutes, Calipari's team sunk five straight free throws to end the game.
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"I wanted everybody to see, we were the best team this season," said the coach, who finally has a championship that's slipped between his thumbs in the past "We were the best team. I wanted this to be one for the ages."
One for the ages is right.
This Kentucky team may very well have five NBA lottery picks on its team in Anthony Davis, Micheal Kidd-Gilchirst, Marcus Teague, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb. Perhaps that's what sparked the comments by former NBA coach Larry Brown, saying that the Wildcats could beat an NBA team. Perhaps they could, or perhaps Brown is becoming senile. Whatever the case, Kentucky can clearly beat NCAA teams.
It's not that crazy that Kentucky won the national championship. That was expected. The way they did it, however, is something to talk about.
"I love the fact Anthony Davis goes 1-for-10, and you all say he was biggest factor of game," Calipari said. "He was 1-for-10. I asked these guys what they would do without scoring. You have an idea what he does."
Yes, we do. It's not very often that you can say a player that made 1 field goal completely controlled the game, but that was the exactly the case. Davis was everywhere last night forcing Kansas to 35 percent shooting, along with his 16 rebounds and 6 blocks.
Kentucky has only allowed three runs of 10-0 or better all year. Kansas had there chance to be the fourth one of the season, instead Tyshawn Taylor missed 1 of the 2. Following that Anthony Davis was fouled and sunk both free-throws.
While most say defense win championships, last night free throws did.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (above) is seen throwing beads of balcony of team hotel following Monday night's Championship win, Head coach John Calipari (below) is seen as well.
Photos: John Deren