The championship game essentially was over at halftime. It got artificially close later, but never really close. With his team leading, 59-44, and just 5 minutes left, UK coach John Calipari decided his team had enough points. Turned out it needed one more.
"I pulled the reins back a little bit," Calipari said.
He figured his defense was good enough to win it. And he was right. When Tyshawn Taylor got loose on a backdoor with 60 seconds left, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was there to block it. It was Jersey against Jersey, with St. Patrick's getting the best of St. Anthony's.
When Elijah Johnson lined up a three from in front of the Kansas bench with 25 seconds left, the amazing Anthony Davis ran him into a turnover.
Johnson actually made the shot that would have made it a one-possession game for the only time in the second half. But it was irrelevant.
Kansas did what it did to Purdue, North Carolina State, North Carolina and Ohio State in the second halves. The Jayhawks held those teams to 24.2 percent shooting and Kentucky to 26.9 percent.
When the game was actually on the line, Kentucky's defense to offense controlled it. The Wildcats made it look very easy because they were just that good, especially Davis.
The incredibly athletic freshman had game highs in assists (five), blocks (six) and steals (three). He also had 16 rebounds, one shy of Thomas Robinson's 17. But Davis' board work turned the game his team's way. His 1-for-10 was the greatest in recorded history.
He said he would wait until the April 29 deadline to decide about his NBA future. He is gone, the surefire No. 1 pick, an immediate franchise changer.
"I don't think [one and done is] a good rule," Calipari said. "I hope we change it before this week's out so all these guys have to come back."
The five starters may all go. Senior Darius Miller is gone. So, Coach Cal will start over - again. He already has commitments from three of the top 50; he is right there for two of the top five.
The players may be different each season. It is the new order. However, in this age, it's a great marketing campaign - win big, get very big NBA contracts.
Regardless of their age and interest level in college, this was some basketball team.
"I wanted everybody to see it because it became, 'They're more talented than everybody,' " Calipari said. "We were the best team this season."
And that would be "team'' as in knowing how to play the game. This team was really a joy to watch.
Would this tournament have been better if the other No. 1 seeds were not all missing key starters? Absolutely. Would it have changed the result? No way to know.
Would the 67 games have been better with at least one buzzer-beater? Sure.
Ultimately, it was about excellence. This Kentucky team personified it.
The coach kept saying it wasn't about him. But this was, finally, that elusive championship in his 20th season as a college coach.
"I told my wife, 'I'm glad it's done,' " Calipari said. "Now, I can get about my business of coaching basketball . . . I don't have to hear the drama. I can just coach now. I don't have to worry. If you want to know the truth, it's almost like, 'Done, let me move on.' "
The coach will move on with a new roster next season.
"I said this a couple years ago and everybody got crazy when we had five guys drafted in the first round," Calipari said. "This is one of the biggest moments, if not the biggest, in Kentucky history. The reason was, I knew now other kids would look and say, you got to go there. What I'm hoping is there's six first-rounders on this team. We were the first program to have five. Let's have six. That's why I've got to go recruiting on Friday."
Contact Dick Jerardi at jerardd@@phillynews.com