Stats & Info: 2012 NCAA tournament

Jayhawks paint a path to title game

April, 1, 2012
The Kansas Jayhawks rallied once again with another late-game surge to survive and advance in this year’s NCAA tournament. This time Kansas ended the game on an 8-3 run to complete a 64-62 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Jayhawks scored the final six points of the game versus Purdue in the round of 32 to secure a 63-60 victory; against North Carolina in the Elite Eight, Kansas finished with a 12-0 run en route to an 80-67 win.

Kansas will be playing in its ninth national championship game and first since winning it all in 2008. This is the Jayhawks' fifth title game in the last 25 seasons, the second most during that span behind Duke’s six appearances.

Painting a victory
The Jayhawks muscled their way to the win, outscoring Ohio State 32-16 in the paint. Kansas had a 42-30 rebounding advantage, grabbing as many defensive boards as the Buckeyes recorded overall.

Kansas also used its intimidating paint defense to generate easy fast-break buckets. The Jayhawks made 7 of 8 field goal attempts and outscored Ohio State 19-8 in transition, with 10 of the 19 points coming off blocks.

Kansas scored nine of its 19 transition points in the final five minutes during its late rally, and has now outscored its opponents 20-9 in transition in the last five minutes in the tournament.

Jeff Withey had just four points but made a huge impact on the defensive end with a Final Four-record seven blocks. Withey now has 27 blocks in this tournament, two shy of the record set by Joakim Noah in 2006.

Thomas Robinson led the Jayhawks with 19 points, but struggled around the basket. He missed 9 of 13 shots and scored only eight points in the paint, but connected on 4 of 5 jumpers outside the painted area.

Buckeyes busted down low
Ohio State took a nine-point halftime lead thanks to a strong 46 percent shooting effort, including 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. However, the Buckeyes went cold in the second half, connecting on just 3 of 12 3-point attempts, and made only five shots inside the arc in the final 20 minutes.

Overall, Ohio State shot 33 percent in the paint, its lowest field goal percentage in the paint over the last four NCAA tournaments. Kansas blocked eight of Ohio State’s 24 paint attempts, including five shots by Jared Sullinger.

William Buford was the lone star for Ohio State, leading the team with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Buford had made just 29.5 percent of his field goal attempts and averaged 11.8 points per game in the Buckeyes’ four previous tournament games. He finished his career with 1,990 points, tying Jerry Lucas for the third-most points in school history.

Stat of the game
Monday’s title-game matchup between Kansas and Kentucky will be just the second time that an SEC team has faced a Big 12/Big 8 team in the national championship game. The other instance was in 1951, when Kentucky beat Kansas State 68-58.

Wildcats make easy transition to title game

March, 31, 2012

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'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.

Kansas has finest finishing touch

March, 25, 2012
In a highly anticipated matchup between two of the three winningest programs in college basketball, the Kansas Jayhawks beat the North Carolina Tar Heels 80-67 to advance to their 14th Final Four and first since 2008.

This was the fifth all-time meeting between Kansas and North Carolina in the NCAA tournament (Kansas now leads 3-2) and the first since the Jayhawks beat the Tar Heels in the 2008 Final Four. The winner of the previous four showdowns has gone on to win the national title.

Kansas is now 4-0 versus No. 1 seeds in the regional final, having also beaten Arkansas in 1991, Indiana in 1993 and Arizona in 2003. That matches Duke for the most such wins by any school, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Why Kansas won
The Jayhawks ended the game on 12-0 run, sparked by a 3-pointer from Elijah Johnson with 3:07 left that gave Kansas a 71-67 lead it would not relinquish. Kansas forced North Carolina to miss all six of its field goal attempts in the final three minutes, including four shots from beyond the arc.

Kansas proved it could run with the Tar Heels, outscoring North Carolina 18-8 in transition during the game. The Jayhawks were the first team to outscore the Tar Heels in transition over the last three NCAA tournaments.

Tyshawn Taylor shined for the Jayhawks, leading all scorers with 22 points and added five assists and five steals.

He is first player to reach each of those totals in an NCAA tournament game since Georgetown’s Allen Iverson had 32 points, five steals and five assists in 1996.

Why North Carolina lost
Leading by 5 with less than 9 minutes to go, Kansas switched from man-to-man to a triangle-and-two hybrid zone defense. The Tar Heels' offense went cold against the zone, making just two shots on their final 12 half-court possessions.

Overall, North Carolina struggled with its perimeter shooting against the Jayhawks.

The Tar Heels made just 2 of 17 shots (12 percent) from beyond the arc, their second-worst 3-point shooting effort in an NCAA tournament game in school history.

North Carolina also missed Kendall Marshall’s ability to lead the Tar Heels’ fastbreak offense.

Without Marshall at the helm, the Tar Heels did not run as much in the tournament, averaging nearly eight fewer transition plays and 11 fewer points per game in its last two contests compared to its first two.

What’s next
Kansas advances to the Final Four in New Orleans to face the Ohio State Buckeyes in a national semifinal game. This will be just the second meeting of 2-seeds in the NCAA tournament. The only other was the 1995 semifinal, when Arkansas beat North Carolina, 75-68.

Wildcats run to easy victory over Bears

March, 25, 2012

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led Kentucky with 19 points as the Wildcats advanced to their 15th Final Four.
Big Blue Nation celebrated once again as the Kentucky Wildcats cruised to an 82-70 win over the Baylor Bears and advanced to their second Final Four in as many seasons. It’s the first time the Wildcats have made consecutive Final Fours since going three years in a row from 1996 to 1998.

Kentucky’s scoring spree continued with its fourth game in a row reaching at least 80 points. The Wildcats are the first team to score 80-plus in four straight games in a single tournament since the 1998 Kentucky team did it five times in a row en route to its national championship, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Kentucky confirmed its status as the favorite in the tournament, winning each of its first four games by double digits. The Wildcats are the sixth team to do that since 2000 and the first since North Carolina in 2009. Four of the previous five teams went on to win the title that year.

The last time the Wildcats played in Atlanta prior to reaching the Final Four was 1998, when they played their first- and second-round games there. Kentucky took home its seventh national championship that season, which is also the last time the Wildcats won the NCAA title.

Why Kentucky won
Kentucky pushed the pace against Baylor, dominating the Bears on the break en route to the 12-point win. The Wildcats outscored Baylor 17-5 in transition, including 11 points in the first half as they built a 20-point halftime lead.

Kentucky entered Sunday's game with 70 transition points in the 2012 NCAA tournament, the most in the field.

Anthony Davis led the way on both ends of the floor with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks. Davis now has 175 blocks this season, setting the SEC single-season blocks record by passing Jarvis Varnado, who had 169 in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the most efficient Wildcat, scoring a team-high 19 points on 7-of-10 field goal shooting and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Kidd-Gilchrist has scored 43 points in his past two games, after totaling 26 in his previous four games combined.

Why Baylor lost
The Bears couldn’t find their shot in the first 20 minutes, making just 7 of 24 field goal attempts (29 percent) in their half-court offense. That was the worst half-court shooting performance in a half for Baylor in an NCAA tournament game over the past three seasons.

Baylor also failed to take advantage of its second-chance opportunities. The Bears had 16 offensive rebounds but scored only 14 second-chance points, making just 4 of 13 shots (31 percent). Entering Sunday, Baylor had converted 53 percent of its second chances in its first three games of the tournament.

What’s next
One of college basketball’s most intense rivalries is renewed as Kentucky moves on to New Orleans to face the Louisville Cardinals in a national semifinal game. This will be the 44th all-time meeting between the Bluegrass rivals, with Kentucky owning a 29-14 edge, including a 69-62 win on New Year’s Eve this season.