Wildcats make easy transition to title game
March, 31, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
ESPN Stats & Information
Louisville shot 34.8 percent from the field in its loss to Kentucky.
Blue blood prevailed in this highly anticipated Final Four battle of in-state rivals, as the Kentucky Wildcats beat the Louisville Cardinals 69-61 to advance to their 11th national championship game and first since winning it all in 1998.
Kentucky is the first top overall seed to advance to the title game since Florida in 2007 and the third to do so since the selection committee began using the distinction in 2004. Florida is the only top overall seed to win a national championship during this span.
The win is Kentucky’s 37th of the season, setting a new single-season school record, and 110th in NCAA tournament play, the most of any school. The victory also gives coach John Calipari a 9-8 edge in head-to-head college matchups with Rick Pitino, and is his first in three NCAA tournament meetings.
Offense wins championships
The Wildcats put together one of the best offensive games this season against a Louisville team that entered the weekend as the best defensive team in the country according to kenpom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency.
Kentucky shot 57.1 percent from the floor, the third-highest field goal percentage allowed by Louisville under Pitino and the highest since 2006. It’s also the best shooting performance by a team in a Final Four game since Syracuse also shot 57.1 percent in 2003 versus Texas.
The Wildcats got out on the break with ease and used their strong transition game to put away the Cardinals. Kentucky made 11 of 13 field goals and scored 25 points in transition, the fourth time in five tournament games that it has scored at least 20 transition points.
Anthony Davis once again dominated the game at both ends of the floor with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. Davis joins Danny Manning in 1988 as the only players since 1986 (when blocks became official) to have at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in a Final Four game.
No easy buckets
Louisville erased a 13-point second-half deficit but couldn’t overcome its poor shooting in the paint to beat Kentucky. The Cardinals missed 16 layups and dunks, their most in a tournament game during the past three years.
Overall, Louisville shot 34.8 percent, its third-worst shooting effort in an NCAA tournament game in the shot clock era and worst since connecting on 33.3 percent of its attempts against Wake Forest in 1996.
The Cardinals kept themselves in the game thanks to a strong effort on the boards.
Louisville outrebounded Kentucky 19-6 on the offensive glass, scoring 13 second-chance points. The Cardinals had averaged just 10 offensive rebounds and nine second-chance points in their first four tournament games.
Stat of the game
If Kentucky wins the national championship, it will mark just the second time in the past two decades that one conference won national championships in both football and men's basketball in the same academic year. Florida did it in the 2006-07 season, capturing both titles for the SEC.