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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Kentucky beats Kansas in championship game

By Blair Kerkhoff
The Wichita Eagle

Four years ago in the national championship game John Calipai lost a nine-point lead in the game's final 2 ½ minutes and a title in the process.

Facing the same blue-uniformed team Monday night, Calipari's team finished the deal.

But Kansas made Calipari sweat it out.

It was Memphis falling to Kansas then, but in the Louisiana Superdome the Kentucky Wildcats gave their coach his first championship with a 67-59 victory.

Kansas cut an 18-point lead late in the first half to five with 1:37 remaining.

But that was as close as the Jayhawks got.

With a chance to cut into a six-point margin, Tyshawn Taylor had a shot blocked by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Taylor got the ball back but a pass went out of bounds, giving possession to the Wildcats.

The Jayhawks had another chance to cut into a six-point margin after Marquis Teague missed the front end of a one and one with 35.7 remaining. But Elijah Johnson traveled just before letting go of a three-pointer that dropped through.

There wouldn't be another opportunity.

The game ended, and the Jayhawks left the floor overcome by emotion. Johnson buried his face in his jersey. Robinson, who finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds, had tears streaming down his face.

This one went as nearly all of Kansas' games in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas dug a huge hole and desperately fought back.

But the deficit has never been this large, and no opponent was this good.

The Wildcats bulled their way to a 41-27 halftime lead, first by roaring past Kansas with transition baskets.

If only Kansas could get Kentucky in a half-court game, more to the Jayhawks' liking…but that didn't work either. The Wildcats popped in jumpers.

And all of this was happening while national player of the year Anthony Davis was scoreless, missing all four of his shots.

Davis, who was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four, finished with only six points but had 16 rebounds. Doron Lamb did the most offensive damage with 22 points. His back-to-back three-pointers midway through the second half restored a 16-point cushion for the Wildcats.

Kansas had one more comeback left, but it fell short and the Jayhawks' season ended with a 32-7 record.

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