Kentucky guard Doron Lamb celebrates after making a three-pointer against… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
The Kentucky Wildcats withstood a late second-half rally by the Kansas Jayhawks to capture the program's eight NCAA championship with a 67-59 victory on Monday night at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Kansas, which trailed by double digits for much of the game, had a chance to cut the lead to three points when guard Elijah Johnson elevated for a three-pointer. But a Kentucky defender forced him to pull the shot down, causing him to travel with 23.5 seconds left and Kentucky leading, 65-59.
Doron Lamb led the Wildcats in scoring wth 22 points, making three of six three-point shots. Star center Anthony Davis struggled on offense, making only one of 10 shots, but he shined everywhere else, finishing with 16 rebounds, six blocked shots, five assists and three steals.
The Jayhawks, who shot only 35.5%, were led by the trio of Tyshawn Taylor (19 points), Thomas Robinson (18) and Elijah Johnson (13).
Kansas trailed, 54-38, with nine minutes left after Lamb hit back-to-back three-pointers in a 38-second span. But Taylor hit a pair of three-pointers for the Jayhawks and Johnson added another a couple of minutes later to cut Kentucky's lead to 59-50 with less than four minutes to play.
Kansas keeps coming back.
Elijah Johnson's three-pointer is followed by two Thomas Robinson free throws, cutting Kentucky's lead to 62-57 with 1:37 left in trhe second half.
Kentucky Coach John Calipari has seen this before. His Memphis team led Kansas by nine with 2:11 left to play and lost in overtime in 2008.
Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor shows up.
He makes a three-pointer -- his first in 21 attempts during the NCAA tournament.
After Jeff Withey rejected Kentucky's Anthony Davis -- giving him a does of his own medicine -- Taylor raced up court, scored and was fouled. His free throw cuts the Kentucky lead to 59-50.
It's the first time the Jayhawks have the deficit to less than 10 points since there were seven minutes left in the first half.
Kansas still sits on the fringe of the NCAA title game, but Kentucky is having a hard time putting the Jayhawks away.
The Jayhawks are lurking after Elijah Johnson's three-pointer cuts the Wildcats' lead to 56-44 with 6:53 left in the second half.
But Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas' top offensive players, are a combined 11 of 29 from the field.
Kentucky's Anthony Davis is 0 for 8 from the field.
Kentucky seems interested again, since this is the final game of the NCAA tournament.
Doron Lamb shakes loose the Wildcats' cobwebs. He sinks back-to-back three-pointers in a 38-second span to give Kentucky a 54-38 lead with nine minutes left in the second half.
Lamb has 20 points to lead all scorers.
Kansas seems to have remembered it's a basketball power, too.
The Jayhawks score eight consecutive points -- four in a row to start by Elijah Johnson -- to cut the Kentucky lead to 10 points, 48-38, with 11:12 left in the NCAA tournament championship game.
Kentucky is shooting a woeful 21% in second half.
Anthony Davis scores!
The Kentucky center makes one free throw for his first point of the NCAA tournament championship game with 15:30 left.
Moments later, though, Davis' steal is converted into a dunk by Terrence Joners for a 46-30 Kentucky lead.
Davis has one point as well as 13 rebounds, five blocked shots, four assists and two steals.
Kansas has trailed by double digits in three previous NCAA tournament games. Down again, the Jayhawks started the second half with scrappy defense.
On one possession, Kentucky had five chances. All they had to show for it was two misses, one blocked shot and two strips.
Still, the Jayhawks can't match that effort on the other end of the court. Kansas has made only 12 of 39 shots and trails, 43-30, with 15 minutes 30 seconds left in the championship game.
If the NBA draft was held at halftime, Kentucky center Anthony Davis would be the first pick. After that, it's a tough call which Wildcat players would go second, third, fourth and fifth.
Kentucky's 41-27 halftime lead is a poor indication of how the Wildcats manhandled Kansas through 20 minutes of play.
Davis has yet to score a point, but he has been the most dominant player on the court. He has nine rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.
Kansas started well, staying close for 10 minutes. A 14-4 run by Kentucky put the Wildcats in charge.
The Jayhawks have dealt with double-digit deficits throughout the NCAA tournament and clawed back with defense. But Kentucky appears to have too many players that need defending.
Doron Lamb has 12 points, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has 11 and Marquise Teague nine.
If Davis decides to score some points, the sun will shine bright on that old Kentucky home.
The NBA pre-draft workout seems to be underway.
Kentucky is now showing off for genereal managers, with layups and three-pointers.
Oh, and defense. Kansas has gone four minutes without a score.