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Iconic Moments of The John Calipari Era: 2012 - A Kentucky Coronation

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In part 3 of 6, we reminisce on the 2012 national title team. This is one of the best teams of all-time and will also live in Kentucky lore. Taking down Louisville in the Final Four and fellow blue blood Kansas in the championship made it that much sweeter.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 2012 season was a culmination of a Kentucky Basketball coronation to its rightful place atop the game.  A 14-year drought came to an overdue end.  The members of Big Blue Nation could finally hold their heads high once again.  Second-Tier programs like Indiana, and Louisville had to live with the fact that Kentucky was at the pinnacle of college basketball once again.

The 'Cats were returning senior Darius Miller and sophomores Doron Lamb, and Terrence Jones.  Coming with them was Coach Calipari's then greatest recruiting haul in his hall of fame career.  He was able to sign the #1 overall player in Anthony Davis, the #1 small-forward in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and the #1 point-guard in Marquis Teague.

With Lamb returning as the shooting guard and Jones returning as the power forward, he could not have filled in the gaps any better.  Add to it he would have senior Darius Miller as his sixth man and the BBN was rightfully giddy with thoughts of #8 in their heads.

Kentucky started the season as the #2 team in america, but we all knew we were the best team in the nation.  The entire season was one that you never really felt like we were in trouble.  Anytime we got down, it seemed it was just a matter of time before we overpowered them... and we did. This team was as good as anyone when they were struggling, when they put it all together... well, no contest.

2012

THE MOMENTS THAT DEFINED 2012

Anthony Davis Posterizes A Fan During BBM Campout

Good Grief, what a freak of nature.


Getting It Done in The Classroom Too

Coach Cal made it very clear that not only do the 'Cats excel on the court, but they do in the classroom too.  For 2011, the 'Cats had a team GPA over 3.0 and led the SEC in APR with a 974.

Raising A Banner

The 2011 team broke the 13-year streak of no final fours, during Big Blue Madness Calipari raised that banner.

Cal's "State of the Union" Address - The Kentucky Effect

Coach Cal took his annual speech to a new level of significance by talking about "The Kentucky Effect", the way that UK does not move the needle... they are the needle.

"We talk about the Kentucky Effect, that is the Kentucky Effect, having high aspirations and standards in everything you do. The Kentucky Effect is about being the best in all areas. It is pushing and promoting our players and putting them in the best position to reach their dreams. They will in turn help us create the lifelong memories and lift the banners that we all yearn for."

"We do more than move the needle, we are the needle. ... We Are UK."

Jones drops 52 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists

It was just the blue-white game, but it created quite the stir in the fanbase as well as media backlash downplaying the performance.

Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis Pre-Season All-Americans

Jones and Davis were named to ESPN's pre-season all-american team.  Davis was the #1 recruit in America and Jones averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in 2011 to help lead the 'Cats to a Final Four.

MKG Absolutely Obliterates A Portland Player

UK Passes First Test of The Season

The 'Cats took on the #12 Kansas Jayhawks in Madison Square Garden.  They used a strong second half to dismantle the Jayhawks in a bit of foreshadowing>

Darius Miller Nearly Gives Dick Vitale A Coronary


Anthony Davis blocks Henson's Game Winner

The #1 Wildcats beat the #5 Tar Heels 73-72 in Rupp Arena behind strong play from MKG's 17 and 11 along with Anthony Davis' late game heroics to block the game winning attempt by John Henson

The Loss to Indiana

The loss itself was terrible, it was heartbreaking, and worst of all it gave Hoosier fans a reason to run their yappers.  What did come from the game was exactly what Cal mentioned, the Kentucky Effect.  You would have thought that IU had won a National Title that night.  The memorialized it on popcorn boxes... a December game that meant nothing was memorialized, let that sink in.

They would eventually lose to the 'Cats in the sweet sixteen and decided that was worthy of rings, yes, they made sweet sixteen rings and commemorated the REGULAR SEASON win against Kentucky.

Jay-Z "Loves The 'Cats"

Rapper and Mogul Jay-Z was in Lexington for the UK-UL showdown.  He told Matt Jones he "loves the 'cats" and watched UK beatdown their rival.  Jay-Z was in attendance for the prior year's elite-8 showdown against North Carolina as well.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis Dispatch of The Cardinals

The aforementioned Jay-Z was in the crowd to watch the #3 Wildcats take on the #4 Cardinals in Rupp Arena.  The combined rankings of the two teams was the highest in the history of the rivalry.  Kentucky would pull away in the second half and control the game on the backs of future #1 and #2 draft picks Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis.

MKG had 24 points and NINETEEN rebounds while Davis added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and SIX blocks.  The two combined for 42 of UK's 69 total points.

Anthony Davis Sets Single Season Record for Blocks

Davis scored a career high 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots while setting a UK single season record with his 85th block of the season.

"I remember one time he just told his guys, `Just bring him in here, I'm going to block everything," Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade said

Anthony Davis Poster Hype

Prior to the Kentucky-Florida game, UK announced they would be giving out commemorative Anthony Davis posters.  The poster accentuated Davis' inhuman wingspan.  Kentucky had to actually issue a statement asking people to stop selling the posters for profits on eBay.

Davis Poster

'Cats Secure 45th SEC regular season title

Behind the 28 points (10-11 shooting), 11 rebound, 5 block effort from Anthony Davis, the 'Cats came from behind to beat Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena for their 51st consecutive home win.

#1 Overall Seed

The 'Cats lost in the SEC tournament finals but with only two losses on the season they were still clearly the overall #1 seed of the NCAA tournament.

Anthony Davis Defies the Laws of Physics vs. Western Kentucky

Kentucky Sends The Hoosiers Home

In a rematch of the regular season game, the Wildcats played the Hoosiers game and still beat them with very little trouble.  It was a great game to watch and both teams played at a very high level with Kentucky having five players in double figures.  The 'Cats ended the Hoosiers dream of an Elite-8 ring and commemorative soda cups.

Kentucky's Road To The Final Four


Back-To-Back Final Fours, UK to face UL in Final Four Dream Game II

The 'Cats defeated Baylor to advance to back-to-back Final Fours for the first time since 1997.  2010 was an elite-8, 2011 was a Final-4, 2012 should progress to at least a title game, right?  This was my irrational thought process going into the game.

The 'Cats controlled the game but never could shake the 'Cards until late in the game.

Kentucky Advances to Play Kansas for a chance at Title #8

Anthony Davis Blots Out The Sun

with the Jayhawks down by six, they had a seemingly open 3-pointer until a witch named Anthony Davis came along


Michael Kidd-GIlchrist with the Ultimate Hustle

MKG got beat on a backdoor play that was going to lead to a Kansas layup and make it a 4-point game, but he did not sulk, he hustled and got a HUGE block to preserve the lead.


The 'Cats Finish it Off For Trophy #8

One Shining Moment - UK Version

The Aftermath Of The Title Win (warning, some language below)

Rupp Arena National Title Celebration

NCAA Records

Kentucky set NCAA records with 38 wins and also with 344 blocks on the season.

Anthony Davis Selected for the 2012 Olympic Team, Wins A Gold Medal, Dominates The World

In addition to the Olympic selection he also won numerous Player of The Year awards, including the AP edition, Wooden Award Edition, and US Basketball Writers Association Edition.

Anthony Davis on Jimmy Kimmel Live

The consensus was that Big Ant killed it on Jimmy Kimmel


#1 and #2 in the NBA Draft

For the first time in NBA history, one school had the top two picks and tied an NBA record with six draft picks overall

National Championship Trophy Tour

Coach Cal took a tour of the state to bring the Championship Trophy to the fans, here are a few of the videos

CONCLUSION

The 2012 team was the ultimate definition of team.  They all sacrificed for each other and for the betterment of the team.  We had an Alpha Male leader in MKG, a seemingly inhuman talent in Anthony Davis, senior leadership in Darius Miller, and returning experience in Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb.

This team is one of the best teams in NCAA history and while they lost two games... they could have very very easily went undefeated.  They are also a team that did it the right way, they were all great individuals and worked hard in the community and the classroom.

We will be hard pressed to see another team like this and I had a blast reminiscing on this special season.