Final Four notes: Calipari, Kansas meet again

By John Marshall

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, April 1 2012 12:09 a.m. MDT

Louisville center Gorgui Dieng (10) reacts from the floor during the second half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against Kentucky Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Well, this matchup is going to look familiar.

John Calipari and his Kentucky juggernaut will face Kansas for the national championship on Monday night. That would be the same Kansas team that beat Memphis in overtime for the NCAA title in 2008, back when Calipari was coaching the Tigers. It also would be the same Kansas team that the Wildcats beat back in November.

"We're worried about us playing at our best," Calipari said after Kentucky held off pesky Louisville 69-61 in the first semifinal. "We did not play at our best tonight. We played good, but that wasn't our best. You know what? So maybe Monday is our best. We're just worried about us."

That 2008 squad Calipari had in Memphis was stocked with talent, led by future NBA MVP Derrick Rose. But the Wildcats are in a totally different class. Anthony Davis has won just about every player of the year award there is, and Louisville coach Rick Pitino likened him to Bill Russell after Saturday night's game.

SULLINGER STRUGGLES: Jared Sullinger was supposed to give Ohio State a big advantage in its rematch with Kansas.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Sullinger, Ohio State's super sophomore, struggled against Kansas' big front line, shooting 5 for 19 in the Buckeyes' 64-62 loss to the Jayhawks in the Final Four on Saturday night.

Sullinger didn't play when Kansas beat Ohio State 78-67 on Dec. 10 because of back spasms. With the hefty power forward back in the lineup, the Buckeyes were supposed to have the upper hand inside.

Instead, Jayhawks center Jeff Withey harassed Sullinger throughout the second half as Kansas rallied from a 13-point deficit to earn a spot in Monday night's national title game against Kentucky.

Sullinger, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, struggled with his emotions after the loss, walking with his jersey pulled over his head as the teams lined up to shake hands.

FANS BURN COUCHES, TURN OVER CARS: Thousands of jubilant fans swarmed streets near the University of Kentucky campus Saturday night, setting couches ablaze and overturning cars after the Wildcats beat cross-state rival Louisville in a Final Four matchup that had riveted the state.

The throngs of screaming, cheering fans took to the streets both on and off campus following the Wildcats' win. Many streets had already been blocked off around Kentucky's Lexington campus to make way for the crowds, but sirens blared and police began shutting down more streets as the blazes broke out.

Twitter feeds reported police in riot gear trying to disperse crowds that were overturning and vandalizing vehicles as well as smashing glass bottles.

PITINO TO ROOT FOR KENTUCKY: Louisville coach Rick Pitino is taking a stance that will probably make some Cardinals fans cringe: He's backing Kentucky in the NCAA championship game.

Shortly after fourth-seeded Louisville lost to the top-seeded Wildcats in the Final Four on Saturday night, Pitino said he hopes coach John Calipari and the Wildcats "bring it home for the state."

"I just said, 'John, I'll be pulling for you, bring the trophy back home to Kentucky,'" Pitino said. "Louisville will be rooting for Kentucky, which doesn't happen very often."

Pitino said he's well aware of the animosity fans of both teams have for one another and even made reference to a story about elderly dialysis patients who got into a fist fight over the rivalry back in Georgetown, Ky.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS