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Kentucky's Miller to break mark at NCAA title game

By Colin Fly

Associated Press

Published: Monday, April 2 2012 5:52 p.m. MDT

Kentucky fans cheer before the start of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 2, 2012, in New Orleans.

David J. Phillip, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Darius Miller gets plenty of grief about being an old man as the only senior who plays significant minutes for Kentucky. He's about to become the most experienced Wildcat ever, too.

When Miller plays in the national championship game on Monday night against Kansas, it will be his 152nd appearance for Kentucky, breaking the school mark set by Wayne Turner in 1999.

"It's been a lot of fun playing with all these guys," Miller said. "We've had great teammates, great players. Just being able to play with them, good players, great players, I've had a lot of fun with that. I've learned a lot from those guys. I still talk to them this day."

Miller has played with some 40 teammates in his college career that started under coach Billy Gillispie. Gillispie was fired after Miller's freshman year and Miller has been part of runs to the regional finals, the Final Four and now the title game.

"It's very emotional. We've worked extremely hard to get to this point. I feel like we've all did a great job throughout the whole year. This is what we've been reaching for," he said. "At the end of this game we have a chance to win a national championship. It's an opportunity that not most people get. Can't really explain it in words. You have to experience it.

"For me to be able to experience it with these guys who I've grown to be brothers with, it means a lot to me. Especially, in my freshman year, I was in the NIT. It was terrible."

Miller — along with five other teammates on this squad — will join Turner, Anthony Epps, Jamaal Magloire and Ron Mercer in 1996-97 for most games played in a season at 40.

Miller's teammates are impressed with his longevity.

"That's crazy. We were all shocked when we heard that," sophomore teammate Terrence Jones said. "He's a great player, and we really need him on this team. We wouldn't be this far without him. He just gets the job done for us in so many ways."

NO MAX: Max Falkenstien, the longtime radio voice of the Jayhawks, will miss watching his beloved team in the Final Four in person for the first time Monday night.

Falkenstien, who will turn 88 next week, spent 60 years calling Kansas games. He got his start in 1946 and chronicled an estimated 1,750 basketball games — and about 650 football games — before retiring from the broadcast booth in 2006.

His father worked for the school growing up, so Falkenstien was on hand in 1940 when Kansas first played in the Final Four. He was there for the Jayhawks' next trip in 1952, when they won the first of four NCAA tournament titles, and every one after that — 13 trips in total.

Even though he'd retired, he was also on hand for the Jayhawks' thrilling win over Memphis to win the 2008 championship.

Bob Davis, his on-air partner for more than two decades and the current lead broadcaster, said school officials tried at the last minute to get Falkenstien to New Orleans for the game. He ultimately was unable to make the trip, though Davis was quite certain he'd tune in to the television coverage.

FREE FOR ALL: Kentucky guard Doron Lamb says he'll make sure to breathe deep and follow through.

The rest of Big Blue Nation will exhale if the Wildcats can hit free throws against Kansas.

The inability to make the unguarded 15-footers was a key reason John Calipari's Memphis team fell to the Jayhawks in the 2008 title game. The Tigers went 12 of 19 from the stripe, including missing four of their final five in regulation with a chance to seal a victory.

Kentucky has made a Southeastern Conference-best 72.3 percent of its attempts this season, giving Calipari confidence.

"I have no issues with that whatsoever," Calipari said. "We'll be fine."

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