NEW ORLEANS – Never mind that Anthony Davis couldn’t score a lick.
The rest of his game was simply sublime in Kentucky’s 67-59 victory over Kansas on Monday night that gave the Wildcats their eighth national title.
Davis’ presence in the lane forced Kansas to back off and look for other options, none of which were very good. When the Jayhawks did venture inside, he made them pay with ferocious blocks and rebounds.
And though his shots weren’t falling, Davis made sure they did for his teammates, setting them up with quick passes that never missed the mark.
“I love the fact Anthony Davis goes 1 for 10 and you all say he was the biggest factor of the game. He was 1 for 10,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “About a month ago, I looked at them all and said, ‘Tell me what you do to help us win when you’re not scoring.’ You saw today with him.”
Despite finishing with just six points, all but two on free throws, Davis flirted with a double-double. He tied Joakim Noah’s individual record for blocks in the NCAA championship game with six, grabbed 16 rebounds, had five assists and three steals.
If this was the last game at Kentucky for the freshman, widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA draft, it was a heck of a way to go out. To the surprise of no one, he was selected the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
“I haven’t decided,” Davis said afterward. “I’m going to sit down, talk with my coach and my family and see what the best decision is for me.”
As the final seconds ticked down, cheers of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” echoed throughout the arena. And as the buzzer sounded, Davis finally showed off the personality that is sure to make him a megastar at the next level. Grabbing a national champions T-shirt and hat with “NO-1 Greater” on the front, Davis quickly put them on and strolled over to the Kentucky fans, pointing at the court as he did Saturday night.
No screams of “This is my stage!” on this night, though. Everybody, from the Kentucky fans to the Kansas players, already knew it.
“It’s not hard to take a backseat, especially playing with a great group of guys,” Davis said. “I knew I was struggling. So I told them, ‘I’m going to defend and rebound. You all make all the points.’ That’s what they did tonight.”