Kentucky coach John Calipari lost a national championship when his Memphis Tigers went just 12 for 19 from the line against Kansas in 2008, and the Wildcats have made just 41 of 64 free throws (65 percent) in their last two NCAA Tournament games, including 11 of 20 on Saturday night against Louisville.
Calipari isn’t worried about the pressure getting to his young team at the line.
“We’re a terrific free-throw shooting team,” Calipari said. “We were No. 1 in our league in free-throw shooting (72.7 percent). I have no issues with that whatsoever. We have a couple of guys who missed some shots. They’ll go into the building and make those free throws, and we’ll be fine.”
Asked whether he’s changed his approach to working on free-throw shooting since 2008, Calipari said: “Yeah. I’ve recruited better free-throw shooters.”
TV ratings up
Kansas’ comeback win over Ohio State and Kentucky’s victory over rival Louisville on Saturday generated the highest Final Four ratings since 2005.
The national semifinals had a 9.0 overnight rating and a 17 share, an increase of 1 percent over last season’s Final Four, which featured Butler, VCU, Kentucky and eventual national champion Connecticut.
The 2005 Final Four involving Illinois, Louisville, North Carolina and Michigan State generated a 10.5 rating and 19 share.
Calipari was disappointed to hear that fans in Lexington had set fires Saturday night in celebration of beating Louisville and reaching the championship game for the first time since 1998.
Officers arrested 27 people on minor charges, such as disorderly conduct and alcohol intoxication, and firefighters were dispatched to 50 nuisance blazes near the Kentucky campus, which included one car, couches and campfires that had been lighted in the middle of the street.
“I don’t know if that ties into having too much to drink,” Calipari said. “But our fans are the classiest fans. They would never storm a court. Rupp Arena, if you win a big game, they’re not storming the court because you’re supposed to win.
“The state of Kentucky is so connected to this program. It’s the commonwealth’s team. They go overboard sometimes. I had (media director) DeWayne Peevy (tweet) some things out: ‘Calm down, relax, use common sense.’ Disappointed to hear it.”
Milestone for Robinson
Kansas junior Thomas Robinson became the 55th player in school history to score 1,000 points with his 19-point performance against Ohio State in the semifinals. Robinson has 1,008 points in his career. He also moved into ninth place on the school’s single-season scoring list, with 674.
• The Wildcats will play in their 11th NCAA championship game tonight. They have seven championships (1948, ’49, ’51, ’58, ’78, ’96, ’98) and three runner-up finishes (1966, ’75, ’97). The Jayhawks will play in their ninth title game. They own three NCAA titles (1952, ’88 and 2008) and five runner-up finishes (1940, ’53, ’57, ’91, 2003).
• Kentucky’s 37 victories are a school record, surpassing the 36 wins set by the 1948 national championship team.
• Kentucky has won 110 NCAA Tournament games, most all-time. North Carolina is second with 108. Kentucky’s 18 Final Four wins are second only to UCLA’s 25.
• Kansas guard Elijah Johnson recorded his first career double-double with his 13 points and 10 rebounds in the semifinals.
| Randy Covitz, firstname.lastname@example.org, and The Associated Press