NCAA basketball: Kentucky beats Baylor in South Regional
Atlanta • Kentucky could've cut the nets down at halftime.
Actually, the Wildcats probably would've been good skipping the ceremony altogether.
A South Regional title is fine, but what matters to this bunch of future NBA stars is breaking out the scissors in the Big Easy.
Top-seeded Kentucky advanced to the Final Four for the second year in a row with an 82-70 blitzing of Baylor on Sunday, setting up a Bluegrass showdown with rival Louisville in the national semifinals Saturday at New Orleans.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 19 points, Anthony Davis added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Terrence Jones dazzled in all the overlooked areas to lead the Wildcats (36-2). For all the hoopla sure to surround the next game in its basketball-crazed state, Kentucky won't consider the season a success unless it wins two more games culminating in a national title.
"I'm not satisfied yet," Kidd-Gilchrist said.
This group sure has the look of a champion, shaking off an early blow by the Bears (30-8). Kentucky took control with an early 16-0 run and led by 20 at halftime.
"This team is better than I thought," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "This is the best team we faced all year ... probably in a couple of years."
The Wildcats beat Louisville 69-62 on New Year's Eve, but now they'll meet with the highest stakes ever. Kidd-Gilchrist shrugged when someone asked about playing the Cardinals.
"I'm just worried about us," he said. "That's it. I don't worry about anybody else."
John Calipari, in his third season at Kentucky, just keeps recruiting the best high school players in the land, molds them into a top team, then sends most of 'em on to the NBA.
Then he starts the whole process over again.
"There are some opinions that will never change," Calipari said. "All I'm trying to do is coach these young people. I'm trying to do the best job for these kids and their families."
But for all the talk about Calipari's one-and-done tactics, he's getting plenty of contributions from those who hung around beyond their freshmen year. Take Jones, a sophomore forward who passed up the draft. He scored just one point in the opening half, but his fingerprints were all over Kentucky's dominating performance: nine rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals and most in the first 10 minutes.
"I was just trying to be aggressive early," Jones said. "That allowed me to get in great position for rebounds and to lead the fast break."
Then there's Darius Miller, one of only two seniors on the roster. He gave up his starting role to Kidd-Gilchrist in this one Kentucky essentially has six starters but added four points, two assists and two steals in the first-half blowout.