Davis' defense helps start Wildcats' offense

March, 30, 2012
Kentucky is the top overall seed in the tournament, and coach John Calipari is trying to win his first national championship.

However, since the Selection Committee in 2004 began ranking the four No. 1 seeds, only once -- the 2007 Florida Gators -- has the top overall seed won the national title.

Calipari is one of three head coaches in the Final Four -- along with Thad Matta and Rick Pitino -- who has lost a national title game. If any one of those three loses in the final, he will be the 12th head coach with multiple losses in the men's basketball championship game.

This will be Calipari's fourth Final Four and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only head coach who has made more appearances in the Final Four without winning a national title is Guy Lewis. He led Houston to five Final Four appearances and lost in the final twice (1983, 1984).

On the court, Kentucky has the AP Player of the Year in Anthony Davis. He's only the second freshman to win the award, joining Kevin Durant in 2006-07. Davis also is the third player from the SEC to win the award, along with Pete Maravich in 1970 and Shaquille O'Neal in 1991.

Davis averaged 14.3 points per game this season, the fewest by a player to win the award.

Davis didn’t win the award for what he did on the offensive end of the floor, but for his presence on defense. He led the nation with 175 blocks, and 145 of them came in the paint, including 80 at the rim. He also blocked 16 midrange jumpers and 14 3-pointers. (On Dec. 31, four of Davis six blocks against Louisville came in the paint.)

Davis and his teammates have scored at least 80 points in all four tournament games in reaching the Final Four. According to Elias, over the past 20 years, only one school has topped the 80-point mark in five consecutive games within a single NCAA tournament. Not only is that school Kentucky, but the Wildcats did it twice, in the 1996 and 1998 tournaments.

The Wildcats lead this year's tournament with 87 transition points (21.8 ppg), and have scored two-thirds of these points off missed shots.

If Kentucky wins its eighth national championship (only UCLA has more, with 11), then it will mark just the third time since the 1990-91 academic calendar that one conference won national championships in football and men's basketball in the same school year.

The SEC, with Florida in 2006-07, won national titles in football and men's basketball. Before the Gators it was the ACC with Georgia Tech and Duke winning football and men's basketball titles, respectively, during the 1990-91 school year.

And one last note from Elias about Saturday's Kentucky-Louisville game: It's the first matchup of in-state rivals in a national final or semifinal since 1962, when Cincinnati defeated Ohio State in the national championship game.



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