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Not this time: KU falls to UK, but not without a fight

Thomas Robinson, left, is consoled by Tyshawn Taylor, left and Kevin Young, background,after KU's loss to Kentucky in the championship game Monday, April 2, 2012.

Thomas Robinson, left, is consoled by Tyshawn Taylor, left and Kevin Young, background,after KU's loss to Kentucky in the championship game Monday, April 2, 2012.

April 3, 2012

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Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor post-game interviews

Elijah Johnson and Tyshawn Taylor talk about KU's loss to Kentucky and the KU team they love. Enlarge video

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Kentucky coach John Calipari and players

Kentucky coach John Calipari and players Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb, Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Darius Miller talk to reporters following the Wildcats' 67-59 victory over Kansas on April 2, 2012, in the national championship game in New Orleans.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson

Kansas coach Bill Self, guard Tyshawn Taylor and forward Thomas Robinson talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 67-59 loss to Kentucky on April 2, 2012, in the national championship game in New Orleans.

KU vs. Kentucky

Box score

— Thomas Robinson stood at the free-throw line closest to Kansas University’s basketball bench, bending over at the waist as tears streamed down his cheeks late Monday night in the Superdome.

KU’s big, bruising junior forward needed assistance from teammates Tyshawn Taylor and Kevin Young, who consoled the 6-foot-10 future NBA lottery pick after the Jayhawks’ 67-59 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA title game.

“It hurts. I wanted to win so bad,” Robinson said after scoring 18 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in 36 minutes.

He hurt badly, but also was “proud” of his Jayhawks, who sliced an 18-point first-half deficit (39-21 at 2:49) and 15-point second-half deficit (59-44 with 5:09 left) to five points (62-57) with 1:37 to play.

“Like coach (Bill) Self said, I don’t think we lost this game. I think we just got beat. All season we’ve been coming back from 12-point deficits,” Robinson said, adding, “I’m just glad I got to be part of this team.”

The Jayhawks (32-7), who trailed at half in four games in the 2012 NCAAs, again didn’t go quietly, this time against a powerful Kentucky squad (38-2), the overall No. 1 seed in the tourney.

“That’s us. We’ve been the comeback kids all year,” junior guard Elijah Johnson said after scoring 13 points off 5-of-13 shooting.

He was involved in one of the game’s key plays.

With KU down 65-59, Johnson went up for a three-pointer in the corner, but came down with the ball in the hands and was whistled for a traveling call. He was bothered by UK big man Anthony Davis, who finished with six points off 1-for-10 shooting, with 16 rebounds, five assists, six blocks and three steals.

“Davis impacts the game so much with his length, and he’s so quick,” KU coach Self said. “He made an unbelievable play when he forced the walk. We tried but never could get it to a one-possession game.”

Doron Lamb (game-high 22 points) cashed two free throws at :17 to conclude the scoring. Lamb, by the way, also hit back-to-back threes to boost a 48-38 lead to 54-38 with 10 minutes left.

KU lagged 62-52 with 2:52 left following a three by Marquis Teague (14 points, 5-14 shooting). That’s when Johnson hit a three and Robinson two free throws, slicing the gap to 62-57 at 1:37. It reminded some of KU’s comeback from a nine-point deficit late in the 2008 title victory over Memphis, a team then coached by Kentucky’s John Calipari.

KU’s Taylor had a near steal, however UK kept control of the ball. Davis was fouled and hit one of two free throws, making it 63-57 at 1:11.

Then Taylor had a reverse layup rejected by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Taylor threw the ball away after grabbing his own rebound at :54.6. Teague was fouled and expanded UK’s lead to 65-57 at :53.

“He made an unbelievable play. I thought I had it. I should have finished on the same side,” Taylor said of his layup try. “I felt I was too far under the rim. He didn’t quit on the play. Him not giving up and using his length, he made an unbelievable play.”

KU’s comeback notwithstanding, the Jayhawks were disappointed they dug an 18-point hole.

“Kentucky controlled everything the first 20 minutes. They had an unbelievable half and had us on our heels,” Self said. “We got the game the way we wanted it. It was a muddy track. We came up short, but I don’t think we lost. They just beat us.”

Noted Taylor: “It sucks we have to be down 14 before we want to start fighting. But the fight never stops with us, man.”

UK, which led by as many as 17 points in a 10-point victory over KU in November in New York, blazed to an 18-point first half lead (39-21) and took a 14-point advantage (41-27) into the break.

Kentucky, which was led by Lamb’s 12 points and Kidd-Gilchrist’s 11 (Teague had nine), hit 16 of 30 shots for 53.3 percent in the half (41.1 for the game to KU’s 35.5). KU, which received eight points from both Robinson and Taylor (Jeff Withey had five with two blocks), hit 11 of 33 for 33.3 percent that half.

UK killed KU on the boards, 25-14, the first half and won the board battle, 43-35 overall. Davis, who didn’t score, grabbed nine rebounds and had four assists and three blocks in 18 minutes.

“We played as individuals the first half,” Johnson lamented. “But we got it together and fought hard the second half. We let Kentucky know if they wanted it they were going to have to take it from us. We made them uncomfortable.”

Yet the Wildcats were the ones clipping the nets afterward.

“Seeing T-Rob like that ... it killed me,” Johnson said of the big man sobbing. “We’ve been working on this since October.”

“It was heartbreaking, just heartbreaking,” noted Withey.

KU’s Robinson and Taylor were named to the all-tournament team with Kentucky’s Kidd-Gilchrist, Lamb and Davis. Davis was named most outstanding player of the Final Four.

Comments

BlackVelvet 2 years, 6 months ago

No one thought we'd get this far. The guys did, and they did it with class. They are winners in my book, regardless of the score of the final game. Rock Chalk guys. Rock Chalk!

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Nicholas Cederlind 2 years, 6 months ago

These guys played their hearts out. And we couldn't be more proud...

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DRsmith 2 years, 6 months ago

Nothing wrong with coming this far with that lineup. That said, the team with the most talent won, simple as that. HCBS doesn't lace them up. Saw all kinds of rationalization posts on here yesterday, we have a better coach, we are tougher, we are more battle tested, they are too young... Where is that jaybate character? He had some real classics yesterday, hope he sobered up.

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Paul Brittain 2 years, 6 months ago

An oddly nuanced position: "Like coach (Bill) Self said, I don’t think we lost this game. I think we just got beat."

They gave it a good ride; the more talented team won.

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somebodynew 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, as usual, you have no idea what you are talking about. They still spent "thousands they do not have" because the people still flooded the streets and caused more problems than if we had won. (Try reading the rest of the paper.)

But, I will give you credit - - at least you didn't blame the Pres this time.

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diggumpops 2 years, 6 months ago

  1. KU fans are not necessarily KU students.
  2. Move away from a college town if you don't like living in a college town.
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stevieboy 2 years, 6 months ago

Enjoyed watching kU get humiliated on tv.. Self got outcoached again...lol

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CrimsonBlossom 2 years, 6 months ago

How far did your team get in the tournament? I'll bet they're the ones that choked against Norfolk State.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 6 months ago

Nah, from their comment history they're the ones that just lost their talented mafia-don-lookalike coach to South Carolina.

Sux to be you, stevieboy.

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racks 2 years, 6 months ago

What a sad statement for someone to make. Your life must be in a state of misery all the time.

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johnphog799 2 years, 6 months ago

well they tried to get a good rally goin. but they gave it a good shot.at it.

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newmedia 2 years, 6 months ago

Thank you team and coaches for another fabulous year. Sure everyone is hurting a little today but we wouldn't be good fans if we didn't. Just think of the positives, Final Two, 8th straight Big XII title, Player of the Year candidate, Misery gone, State chasing it's tail again, etc.,etc.

Now time to support Coach Weis as he gets KU football back on the map and Coach Self as he reloads for next basketball season.

Nothing but positives ahead! Rock Chalk!!

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Jerry Collins 2 years, 6 months ago

Betcha there will be a lot of thankful fans to welcome them back at 6:30 this evening.

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racks 2 years, 6 months ago

What an awesome season! Coach Self is an inspiration to his players, his concern for each of them as individuals should be an inspiration for every college coach in the nation! KU players love their coach and it shows in every statement they make. Great Job! This year has been a ball! We, the fans are so proud of each and everyone of you!! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!

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Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 6 months ago

Absolutely! Bill Self is a true asset to the team and to Lawrence!!! Bill Self Rocks!

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hesshawk 2 years, 6 months ago

This was way more than I hoped for when things started back in November. The team grew so much during the course of the season, especially after the Davidson game. I don't think it's coincidence that the Davidson game was about the same time that Ben McLemore and Jabari Traylor were eligible to practice with the team. Going against those two guys playing red team had to make the guys better. The future is bright, as it is every year, for the Jayhawks. And we'll always be right there every year !!

Rock Chalk

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Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 6 months ago

I have lived in Lawrence for 50 years and have always been a KU fan! .. This season gave us even more than some of those seasons when we actually WON the championship! I'm so proud to be a Jayhawk and I'm so proud of this 2012 team! I, for 1 of, oh, probably about 40,000.. will be there to welcome them home tonight!! RCJH FOREVER! xoxoxo

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mcontrary 2 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the dance! We love you.

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Beth Ennis 2 years, 6 months ago

Stevieboy, what is up? Are you really so miserable in your life that you have to make such degrading comments? Ever hear of "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all?" We were not humiliated in the least. Our guys played with class, style and heart. They never gave up and were very close to an upset victory. On top of which, I can think of at least 66 other teams that would have given anything to be in our position, including whatever team you call yourself a fan of. Most KU fans have a lot of class as the posts on here show. We didn't need a National Championship to prove what a great team we had this year. It would have been nice, but it wasn't necessary at all. They are winners through and through and deserve as much praise as Kentucky. Bill Self is a class act. If you are a state boy, I'm sorry you had to lose Frank. I also think he is a class act and loved having him at K-State. I hope you do well with Bruce Weber, he's got some good stats but got stale at Illinois.

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iamtiv 2 years, 6 months ago

I just saw 2 names here to answer the question I was gonna pose: Who are KU's big players gonna be next year other than Withey & Johnson? McLemore and Traylor? The poster above seems pretty psyched about them. I guess we also have one McDonald All-American next year (my brother watched some of that game and noticed that we had one kid there). So that's at least 3 new guys coming in with a little fanfare.

Do you guys think Young and Wesley could be good next season? Wesley showed me nothing this season but I think Young has a lot of upside, but not as a 4. Just too small there but can be a lethal rebounder at a #3 position.

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iamtiv 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, just in case anyone is reading this: I did some research and came up with a bunch of names of players coming in. 4-star prospects = Andrew White - good 3-pt shooter, 6-3 guard Perry Ellis - McDonald's AA player and considered a strong candidate to
start at the 4 next year 3-star prospects Zach Peters (don't know much about him) Landon Lucas (don't know much about him some other kid who's name already escapes me.

So that's quite a lot of fresh meat looking to make a splash in the big 12 next season. It will be interesting to see how many of these kids will be redshirted, or how many will just decide there's too much congestion and transfer. so: Withey, Johnson, Ellis?, White?, Young McLemore, Traylor, Lucas, Peters

Whattaya think?

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rgh 2 years, 6 months ago

Great season guys! Who would have ever guessed we would have won the Big XII let alone have been playing in the NCAA Championship game? Best of luck to Tyshawn, Jordan, and Conner (I'm guess T-Rob as well). A lot of fond memories from the 2011-2012 season!! Rock Chalk Jayhawk and not a darn thing to be ashamed of!!

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