Kentucky held the lead from early on in the 2012 NCAA Tournament final on Monday night. And the Wildcats seemed to be bobbling it in the second half as Kansas made an improbable run. But the immensely talented Wildcats ultimately held on for a 67-59 victory, giving the most successful program in college basketball its first national championship since 1998 — and allowing John Calipari to hold the trophy high for the first time in his career.
The Wildcats got contributions from up and down their roster, like a game-high 22 points from Doron Lamb and 11 points, six rebounds, and a clutch defensive play from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and built a 16-point lead with 10:00 to go in the second half. But Anthony Davis, their superlative forward, starred in Kentucky's coronation despite making just one field goal: he had 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and three steals, more than making up for a subpar six-point outing with all-around brilliance.
Kansas would not let Kentucky ascend the ladder without a fight, though, and ripped off a 13-3 run late in the second half to close to within five points. Thomas Robinson ended the game with 18 points and 17 rebounds, and Tyshawn Taylor had a 6-0 spurt within that run, but the Jayhawks didn't have enough firepower to stay with star-studded Kentucky.
The Wildcats didn't encounter a team in the 2012 NCAA Tournament that did: their six wins came by an average of 15.4 points, and none by fewer than eight.
For more on the Wildcats, check out A Sea of Blue. For more on the Jayhawks, head over to the SB Nation blog Rock Chalk Talk. For more updates on tonight's championship game throughout the day, keep it tuned to this StoryStream.