Editor’s Note: The following is submitted by @HailToOldKU, a guest blogger to Jayhawk-Talk. Follow him on Twitter at @HailToOldKU.
These were the Jayhawks that wouldn’t die.
Detroit led, for a brief moment there, and the Titans couldn’t be shrugged off after the wild events of that day. Then Purdue had Kansas on the ropes and trailing for 39 minutes and 15 seconds, but Elijah Johnson made the plays to get the Jayhawks onward. Then NC State threw a haymaker, and the Jayhawks took it off the jaw and kept punching.
And in the Final Four, Carolina ran a lineup of four (at least) future pros, all of them heading for the NBA this year, if the rumors of McAdoo’s departure are true. But they couldn’t do it. And Ohio State, too, landed a mighty blow early, doubling up the Jayhawks in the middle of the first half. But Jeff Withey’s stuff and the outlet to Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford’s lay-in made it nine at the break, and everybody started breathing easier, because these were the Jayhawks that wouldn’t die.
But they couldn’t afford that early lapse against Kentucky. They couldn’t go down early because Kentucky was too long and too quick and too flat-out good for Kansas to play anything shy of its A-game and expect to keep it close. So when Kentucky took a 10-point lead, and then an 18-point lead, and when it was 16 in the second half after a pair of Doron Lamb dagger threes, Kansas was done. It was over.
Except it wasn’t.
Because, down nine with less than four minutes remaining, the Jayhawks were still smiling.
”No one could tell us that we were going to lose except for the scoreboard,” Elijah Johnson told ESPN.com’s Jason King. “That was our mindset. We smiled and realized that hey, we only have four minutes left to play with each other. We said, ‘If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to remember us. They’re going to feel the last of us.’”
Thomas Robinson’s free throws made it seven. Kentucky answered with a three. Johnson answered right back. Robinson went back to the line and made it five with a minute-and-a-half to play.
The only people who didn’t think Kansas had a shot were those that had already turned off their televisions.
Kansas was making a run that mirrored so many of its games in this tournament, that mirrored also the last time Bill Self and John Calipari faced off in a national title game, when Self’s Jayhawks overcame a nine-point deficit with 2:12 to go.
But Kentucky was too good, as they have been all season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist made the play of the season with an incredible block of a Taylor lay-in that would have made it a four point game with a little more than a minute to play
Then Marquis Teague went to the free throw line and did what another more highly touted freshman point guard of Calipari’s once failed to do. He hit two free throws. The lead was eight inside a minute. The fight didn’t leave the Jayhawks, but the game was over.
“The fight never stops with us guys,” Taylor said. “We just were fighting the whole game. We were right there. We were right there.”
“But they’re a great team.”
Too great on Monday. And the Jayhawks that wouldn’t die were finally finished.#kubball, 2012 Jayhawks, Basketball, Final Four, Kansas, National Championship