Recap: Kentucky vs. Baylor
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - For the second straight year, the Kentucky Wildcats are headed to the Final Four.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 17 of his 19 points in a lopsided first half that Kentucky used as a springboard to an 82-70 win over the Baylor Bears in the South Regional final of the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats (36-2) will face Louisville in New Orleans next Saturday. The Bluegrass State rivals met earlier this season, with the visiting Cardinals losing 69-62 on New Year's Eve.
Sunday's victory did come with a scare for Kentucky as outstanding freshman Anthony Davis injured his left knee on a collision early in the second half. After a brief stay on the bench, during which he received treatment, Davis checked back into the game and wound up finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks and two steals.
Doron Lamb supplied 14 points -- all after halftime -- and Terrence Jones posted 12 points with nine boards, six assists and three blocks for the Wildcats.
Quincy Acy paced Baylor (30-8) with 22 points, while Pierre Jackson scored 21. Perry Jones III, who generated the contact that led to Davis' injury, added 17 points and eight rebounds.
Glancing at the final score, it's hard to believe Kentucky, the tournament's top overall seed, got off to a sluggish start. Quincy Miller nailed a straightaway three-pointer to put Baylor up 10-5 before the game was four minutes old.
The Wildcats were mired in a scoring slump, missing seven consecutive shots when Kidd-Gilchrist got a jumper to fall. The bucket ignited a 16-0 run -- aided by a turnover-prone Baylor squad -- that enabled Kentucky to take control of the game. A Kidd-Gilchrist layup put the Wildcats up 21-10 with 11:32 remaining.
Later in the first half, Baylor endured a lengthy dry spell as Kentucky extended its lead to as many as 22 points. The third-seeded Bears went six minutes without a field goal after Jones made a jumper with 7:11 left and went into the break staring at a 42-22 deficit.
"The first half was a great defensive performance," said Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
Baylor committed nine first-half turnovers and shot just 32 percent.
The Georgia Dome crowd went silent less than two minutes into the second half when Davis came down awkwardly on his left knee after colliding with Jones, who had moved over to defend the 6-foot-10, 220-pounder, on a drive in the lane. Davis clutched at the knee as he laid on the floor, while Jones appeared to injury himself on the play as well.
"Knee is doing fine. I just bumped knees with Perry Jones, and it started hurting real bad," Davis said. "But I knew my team needed me to play. I wasn't going to sit out, especially with a trip to the Final Four, and all of us want to go to the Final Four. So I knew I needed to come in the game and help my team out, so I decided to come in."
Moments after the collision, Lamb knocked down a trey to give Kentucky its largest lead of the game at 51-28.
The Bears continued to battle and closed to within 63-50 on a Brady Heslip three-pointer with 8:53 remaining. But the Wildcats responded with layups from Marquis Teague and Kidd-Gilchrist and a dunk by Terrence Jones.
Baylor managed to trim its deficit to 78-68 inside the final minute.
"I don't think we played our best game," said Bears head coach Scott Drew. "I'm going to give them credit for causing some of that. But this team's better than I thought. Definitely, we haven't played a better team than them all year."Game Notes
Kentucky will be making its 15th Final Four appearance...Teague and teammate Darius Miller scored eight points apiece...The Wildcats made 53.3 percent of their shots, while limiting Baylor to 39.1 percent shooting for the game...Kentucky had a 30-16 edge in made free throws...The Wildcats have won all seven meetings with Baylor. These teams last met on December 8, 1979...The Bears were seeking their first trip to the Final Four since 1950.