KU fans leave Superdome empty-handed after Jayhawks’ loss

04/02/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 6:48 PM

A store near Bourbon Street sold “Kentucky 2012 NCAA champions” T-shirts on Monday afternoon, hours before the basketball game tipped off at the Superdome.

Kansas fans looked at the shirt and smirked. A Kentucky fan said, “That’s a little early, but I like the thought.” Turns out, the T-shirt wasn’t premature at all.

Kentucky confirmed season-long predictions that the Wildcats rule college basketball with a 67-59 win over Kansas. The Wildcats led by 14 at halftime and by double figures most of the second half. Kansas, which made a habit of rallying in the second half in the NCAA Tournament, got within five points with 1:37 to play — and no closer.

“We knew we were playing the best team in the country,” said KU junior Chris Powell, from St. Louis. “They were great. We almost came back.”

KU cut the lead to 59-52 with 3:52 to play, and every loyal Jayhawk fan remembered their team rallying to tie coach John Calipari’s Memphis team from nine down in the final 2:12 of the 2008 title game.

When Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis missed his first free throw with 1:11 remaining and the Wildcats up 62-57, Calipari watchers had to feel they had seen this drama. Davis made the second and a Jayhawk turnover gave