Ken­tucky rolls on to Big Easy

Kidd-gilchrist, Davis shine

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY PAUL NEWBERRY

AT­LANTA | Ken­tucky is tak­ing its high­light show back to New Or­leans.

With an Nba-like dis­play from a young team filled with fu­ture pros, the top-seeded Wild­cats ad­vanced to the Final Four for the sec­ond year in a row with an 82-70 blitz­ing of Bay­lor in the South Re­gional final Sun­day.

Michael Kidd- Gilchrist scored 19 points, An­thony Davis added 18 points and 11 re­bounds, and Ter­rence Jones daz­zled in all the over­looked ar­eas, lead­ing the Wild­cats (362) to a Blue­grass show­down with ri­val Louisville in the na­tional semi­fi­nals on Satur­day in New Or­leans.

For all the hoopla sure to sur­round that game in the bas-

ket­ball-crazed state, Ken­tucky won’t con­sider the sea­son a suc­cess un­less it wins two more games — cul­mi­nat­ing in a na­tional ti­tle.

“This team is play­ing for you and play­ing for each other,” coach John Cali­pari told the pre­dom­i­nantly blue­clad crowd when it was over. “Let’s see if we can keep this thing rolling a bit.”

This group sure has the look of a cham­pion, shak­ing off an early blow by the Bears (30-8) — a very good team with a dar­ing fash­ion sense that was sim­ply no match for Cali­pari’s lat­est group of Fab Fresh­men. Ken­tucky took con­trol with an early 16-0 run and led by 20 at half­time.

They might as well have cut down the nets right then.

Cali­pari, in his third sea­son at Ken­tucky, just keeps re­cruit­ing the best high school play­ers in the land, molds them into a top team, then sends most of them on to the NBA be­fore they’ve barely had time to find their way to class.

Then he starts the whole process over again.

Two years ago, John Wall led Ken­tucky to the re­gional final. Last sea­son, Bran­don Knight helped guide the Wild­cats to the Final Four. Now, with those guys in the NBA and Kid­dGilchrist and Davis stop­ping off for what likely will be their only sea­son in Lex­ing­ton, Big Blue has a shot at what those last two teams failed to do: bring­ing Ken­tucky its first na­tional ti­tle since 1998.

But all the talk about Cali­pari’s one­and-done tac­tics, he’s get­ting plenty of con­tri­bu­tions from those who hung around be­yond their fresh­man year. Take Jones, a sopho­more for­ward who passed up the draft. He scored just one point in the open­ing half, but his fin­ger­prints were all over Ken­tucky’s dom­i­nat­ing per­for­mance: nine re­bounds, six as­sists, three blocks and two steals.

Then there’s Dar­ius Miller, one of only two se­niors on the ros­ter. He gave up his start­ing role to Kidd- Gilchrist in this one — Ken­tucky es­sen­tially has six starters — but con­trib­uted four points, two as­sists and two steals to the first-half blowout.

At one point, Kidd-gilchrist had as many points as Bay­lor’s en­tire team: 17 apiece. Ken­tucky led 42-22 at the break and Bay­lor never got any closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

The Wild­cats left New Or­leans ear­lier this month dis­ap­pointed with a loss in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game.

Quincy Acy led Bay­lor with 22 points.

Acy tried to send a mes­sage early on that Bay­lor would not be in­tim­i­dated by the Wild­cats.

With Jones in the clear and go­ing in for a fastbreak layup, the 235-pound Acy came up from be­hind, took a whack at the ball but mainly just crashed into the Ken­tucky player, send­ing him fly­ing into the Bay­lor cheer­lead­ers along the base­line. Jones was OK, and the of­fi­cials doled out a fla­grant foul on Acy af­ter look­ing at the re­play.

Jones made one of the free throws, Ken­tucky missed a jumper and the Bears, seem­ingly in­spired by Acy’s bravado, ripped off an 8-0 run that led Cali­pari to call a quick time­out. He al­ready had yanked Doron Lamb from the game for try­ing to make the high­light reels rather than tak­ing a layup. The sopho­more guard passed up a clear path to the bas­ket, in­stead opt­ing for a lob pass to the trail­ing Davis.

The big man missed the dunk, hang­ing on the rim as Bay­lor grabbed the re­bound and took off the other way for a bas­ket.

Af­ter Quincy Miller hit an un­con­tested 3-pointer from the top of the lane to give Bay­lor a 10-5 lead, Cali­pari lashed into his young team and, boy, did they respond.

Six­teen con­sec­u­tive points, an Nba-like dis­play of de­fen­sive dom­i­nance and easy bas­kets that sent the Ge­or­gia Dome, and the pre­dom­i­nantly blue-clad crowd, into a frenzy.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ken­tucky’s An­thony Davis (fac­ing cam­era) and Bay­lor’s Perry Jones III bat­tle for the ball dur­ing the sec­ond half. Davis, a fresh­man, scored 18 points and pulled down 11 re­bounds.

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