Two monster alley-oop finishes highlight historic night for Kentucky’s Anthony Davis

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They're highlights that might live on forever in Kentucky lore.

Freshman star and National Player of the Year Anthony Davis thundered home a pair of ridiculous alley-oop finishes in Kentucky's 69-61 national semifinal victory over Louisville to kick off a big night in New Orleans.

The first was a two-handed throw-down that he had to reach behind his head to grab — a conversion maybe a handful of big men in the nation could complete. The second was a transition lob that was actually tipped in mid-air by Louisville's Gorgui Dieng before Davis grabbed it with his right paw and put a final exclamation point on Kentucky's 37th win of the season.

The dunks went down as the signature moments of a performance that ended with Davis caught by CBS cameras yelling "This is my stage!" as he flung the ball into the stands at the final buzzer.

Davis' total damage? Eighteen points, 14 rebounds, five resounding blocked shots. He became the first player since Kansas' Danny Manning in 1988 to record at least 18 points, 10 rebounds and at least five blocks in a Final Four game.

[ Video: Anthony Davis celebrates Kentucky's victory ]

And even though Kentucky's Monday night foe Kansas has elite front-court talents, it's hard to not give a significant advantage to a Kentucky team that not only has the 6-10 Davis in the middle, but a 6-10, long, athletic, versatile Davis who clearly is not fazed by the moment.

With the exception of trailing 2-0 in the opening minute, Kentucky led the entire way against Louisville, and despite shooting 57.1 percent from the floor compared to the Cardinals' 34.8 percent, the talent-rich Wildcats simply don't win the game if it wasn't for Davis.

Why not, specifically?

Well, on top of altering several more shots than simply the five that he blocked and keeping Dieng from getting comfortable inside early for Louisville, 12 of his 14 rebounds came on the defensive glass. That was huge because Louisville was able to hang around much longer than it should have been able to largely because of its ownership of the offensive glass, despite Davis getting 12 defensive caroms. The Cards got several second-chance points off of their 16 offensive boards.

[ Related: Kentucky too strong for Louisville, reaches title game ]

Davis' overall presence made up for freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and sophomore Terrence Jones being taken out of the game for much of the half due to foul trouble. Both had a tough time getting going in the second half, too.

The biggest question now is whether Davis can do it again in 48 hours. If he does, it's Kentucky's title to lose.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for Follow him on Twitter at @ryanmgreene.

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