By Matt Tait:
After Frank Mason had just given the Kansas University basketball team its first lead of the second half on a spinning layup and free throw following a foul with 34 seconds to play, Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds to play to put the Wildcats up for good and Villanova held on for a 63-59 victory.
Arcidiacono, who had not made a shot all night and had just five three-pointers on the season, drilled the three from the wing and Mason followed on the other end with a miss of his own with just over three seconds to play to seal the Jayhawks' fate.
KU fell to 5-1 on the season and will now play UTEP in the Battle 4 Atlantis third-place game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Mason led the Jayhawks with 12 points. Perry Ellis (11), Andrew Wiggins (10) and Joel Embiid (10) all joined him in reaching double figures.
For the longest time early, it looked like the game's final seconds would not matter.
After opening the game with an 11-2 lead and holding Villanova without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, KU's big men got into foul trouble and the Jayhawks got sloppy on the offensive end.
In fact, Villanova, which outplayed and out-hustled KU throughout the final 10 minutes of the first half, flipped the script and held KU without a field goal for the final seven minutes of the first half.
Early in the second half, KU trailed by as many as 10 (36-26) but stormed back and cut it to two points. Villanova quickly responded to the run and even went up by as many as a dozen before the wild sprint to the finish.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Villanova got out of its early funk and ripped off a 26-8 run during 12 key minutes of the first half that helped build a 29-22 halftime lead. For Kansas, Joel Embiid unleashed a mini-spurt late in the second half where he scored an and-one, went back to the free throw line on the next possession and then found Perry Ellis out of the post for a driving lay in that cut Villanova's lead to 57-53 and forced Nova to call a timeout with just under five minutes to play. Unfortunately for Kansas, Embiid fouled out less than a minute later.
• Offensive highlight: Seconds after KU fell behind by 10 points for the second time in the second half, Naadir Tharpe attacked the heart of the Villanova defense and threw up an easy lob to Joel Embiid who threw it down with one hand and a little authority to pull the Jayhawks within eight at 50-42 with just over 10 minutes to play.
• Defensive highlight: It's not the kind of play that will wind up on a poster or even on SportsCenter, but Frank Mason's quick knock-away following a Villanova timeout gave the Jayhawks possession down four with just under five minutes to play and kept the momentum with the Jayhawks. KU got nothing out of the extra possession, but it kept the pressure on Villanova and helped keep the pro-KU crowd into the game.
• Key stat: Three-point shooting. Villanova finished the game 9-of-25 from behind the arc (including the game winner) and the Jayhawks shot just 2-of-11. Worse than the huge point differential that Nova's better three-point shooting brought was the fact that many of the Wildcats' looks from downtown were wide-open, uncontested shots.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will play in the third-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday against UTEP, which fell to Iowa in the other semifinal on Friday.