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Calipari (and Kentucky) get Kansas again for title
With the score tied at 30 a minute into the second half, the Wildcats broke loose with an 11-0 run. Two free throws from Tyshawn Taylor stopped the spurt, but Marquis Teague had a dunk and Doron Lamb hit consecutive 3s. Moments after an airball, Lamb drilled another 3 and Kentucky had a 54-37 with 10:05 to play.
The victory was Calipari’s first in four games against Kansas, where he began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant in 1982.
Few people would have expected the Jayhawks to earn a rematch with Kentucky after the way they scuffled through the early part of the season. They were 7-3 midway through December and struggling to find an identity after losing Marcus and Markieff Morris, their leading scorers and rebounders, as well as 3-point specialist Brady Morningstar.
But a team meeting helped Kansas find its focus, and the Jayhawks simply refuse to lose. They’ve lost just two games since Feb. 7, and keep eking out wins in the NCAA tournament.
“It’s pretty cool to have the winningest program of all time and the second-winningest program of all time hooking up on Monday night,” Self said.
On Saturday night, the Jayhawks scored the first bucket but didn’t lead again until Travis Releford made two free throws with 2:48 left. That lead lasted for all of 11 seconds, but the second-seeded Jayhawks overcame another deficit and finally held on against the Buckeyes (31-8).
Taylor’s two free throws with 8.3 seconds left gave Kansas a 64-61 lead, matching its biggest of the game. The Jayhawks intentionally fouled Aaron Craft with 2.9 seconds left. Craft made the first, then quickly clanked the second one off the front of the rim on purpose but was called for a lane violation as he darted in to grab the rebound.
Kansas dribbled out the clock, and the rematch was on.
“These guys have matured a lot and played a ton of minutes this year, so they’re far more experienced than some would be just because of the situations they’ve been in,” Jayhawks guard Elijah Johnson said. “We kind of played on borrowed time a little bit, but I think it gives the guys confidence that no matter what, we’re OK.”
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
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