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Saturday, March 24, 2007

End of the road

KU falls to UCLA, 68-55

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2006-07 March 24 KU-UCLA Hoops

Check back soon for KUSports.com post-game analysis and sound straight from the KU locker room.

San Jose — Arron Afflalo overcame his history of mediocre big-game performances, leading UCLA back to the Final Four.

In an exceptional second half, Afflalo scored 15 of his 24 points and the Bruins held off top-seeded Kansas for a 68-55 victory Saturday night in the West Regional championship.

Afflalo also played stellar defense and Darren Collison added 14 points and four big free throws in the final seconds. The Bruins (30-5) made their halftime lead stand up in an appropriately tense meeting between two schools with rich traditions and a combined 30 Final Four appearances - including an NCAA-record 17th for UCLA next week in Atlanta.

The Bruins, who lost to Florida in last season's national title game, could be in for a rematch: They'll meet Sunday's winner of the Gators' regional final against Oregon.

Brandon Rush scored 18 points for the Jayhawks, the first No. 1 seed to be eliminated from the tournament. Their 14-game winning streak also was snapped in the school's first NCAA tournament loss in California, where this game had a decided home-court feel for the Bruins.

UCLA has never lost to Kansas in five NCAA tournament meetings, and the Bruins are 17-3 in regional finals. UCLA also has back-to-back 30-win seasons for the first time since 1972-73, when two of John Wooden's 10 championship-winning teams each went 30-0.

"It feels good," Collison said. "We felt that we didn't finish the job last year, so we're going to enjoy this moment, and then go back and try to finish it."

Afflalo's teammates surrounded him in celebration after the buzzer, and the pro-UCLA crowd chanted "One more year!" at the smiling junior as he pulled on a commemorative T-shirt and hat.

The Bruins edged ahead of North Carolina in Final Four appearances. The Tar Heels have 16 going into Sunday's East Regional final against Georgetown.

Though Kansas (33-5) is loaded with star talent, the second-seeded Bruins returned with several major contributors to last season's run. That experience showed in every pressure-packed possession of a matchup between two teams that began the season with the Final Four as their only acceptable destination.

Afflalo felt more pressure than most: Though he was the Pac-10's player of the year and the Bruins' acknowledged leader, he had a dismaying habit of disappearing in big games.

Afflalo struggled in both of the Bruins' Final Four contests last season, scoring a combined 19 points against LSU and Florida. He managed just three points in this season's conference tournament loss to California, and he was ineffective for long stretches of the Bruins' last two victories in the NCAA tournament.

He had no such trouble this time, hitting a series of clutch baskets with a dwindling shot clock in the second half as UCLA nursed a lead. Collison, the point guard who succeeded Jordan Farmar in this season's starting lineup, also helped with his heady playmaking.

Comments

Hiroyuki Kato 13 years ago

I'm proud of this year's team!! Bill self did a great job. We could have won this game if we had played in neutral court. NCAA selection committee sucks!

whitsterman 13 years ago

Ya, the homecourt advantage definately didn't help us, but we did beat ourselves tonight. To a great season, and to a great team, who should all return next year with a real championship run in them. Get 'em Hawks!!!

Midwest013 13 years ago

It also would've been better if some calls went out way for a change.

Midwest013 13 years ago

There's always next year!!!

Go Hawks!!

stujayhawk 13 years ago

We loss to a lesser team when it mattered the most.

I getting really tired of this, and i'm only 17 years old. How are you older fans able to cope?

lee3022 13 years ago

The game was not won ot lost by the location. We simply lost to a more experienced team. Were we to play again in the same location perhaps the outcome would be different but that is the nature of the NCAA tournament. If there is one statistic we should be concerned by it is missed layups. The last three games this has been an issue for us and today it was our undoing.

Bill Self is a great coach and this team has certainly been a great team. Now we begin to prepare for next year. Each player here has the opportunity to come back with renewed hope and greater experience in big games. We can all hope they all return and the freshmen next year will contribute as well.

Mike Gammill 13 years ago

Had we hit the other half of our layups and dunks that we missed, and done better at the charity stripe....

We'd be the ones headed to Atlanta.

Take heart, "Hawks fans, we're young and we'll be there again next year!!

Haefele 13 years ago

i agree with Midwest013. Did you guys see those constant hip checks that Afflalo and the rest of UCLA was giving us? I mean, come on refs, they tripped Chalmers and you didn't even call anything?!? You gotta be kidding me. Also, our close range game didn't really help us. But on a happier note, this Jayhawk team was amazing, and we should have everyone back next year, along with a few star freshman. I haven't felt this good about a Kansas team since Hinrich and Collison in that Championship run in 2002. Way to go hawks. You truly were the best team in the nation this year, hands down.

countryjayhawk 13 years ago

lets not make excuses, we will never figure out the NCAA committee, home state advantage doesnt mean anything, look at A&M. UCLA was the better team, they obviously learned a lot on how to defend us from the SIU game. We also just didnt finish, that doesnt fall on Self, that falls squarely on the team. We were also very hesitant and seemed a little nervous, Mario and Sherron especially. Mario held back when he would have usually pulled the trigger, Sherron just wasnt himself tonight. But UCLA played better tonight, their NCAA experience showed tonight, i am confident that KU will be back very strong next year, hopefully nobody will leave. It was a good season though, 30 # wins, conference championships, elite eight, and everyone improved throughout the season. They know what they have to do now to be a final four team since they came so close this year.

whitsterman 13 years ago

You don't have to be experienced to make a layup. Our hawks were shook up with the place or something, i have never seen them play so bad offensively before. We are a lot better than we showed tonight. We should have won this game. Now I have no one to root for cause i hate Florida, and of course UCLA, NC i hate with a passion, and ohio st. is over rated.

PhillyPhan 13 years ago

Anything less than a championship was unacceptable with this team...and anyone who disagrees with me is either a liar or clueless. This was a national title team, period!

wtarush 13 years ago

I have nothing bad to say about the Hawks, never have, never will. Every year they give me something to look forward to... something to cheer about... something to be proud of outside of myself. This year was no different. And, just as I did yesterday, I will patiently await the next game. No matter how far away it may be. These fellas are great and I wouldn't trade a single one of them for an Oden, a Durant... or a Roy Williams.

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK. GO KU!

lee3022 13 years ago

To Stujayhawk -

Being a KU fan is not about one game or one year. We are provided such a wealth of value from KU over the years and athletics is just one small part. Those of us with a degree from KU know that it opened doors to good careers and we never had to be embarrassed by our roots.

If you want to see the consequences of fans out of control simply look at the University of Kentucky who drove off one of the very best coaches in the country with death threats! And Tubby Smith led them to a national championship. What we can expect and hope for at KU is a competitive team each year composed of good character men who progress toward their degree. Look at the NBA and the guys from KU who have succeeded best are those who stayed at least 3 years and gained also the academics. Julian Wright has this just right - get you degree in 3 years and then you have the option for the 4th year. There may never be a better time than the time these players have at KU.

c0bra 13 years ago

Next year KU will win the championship. I am as sure of this as I am of the ground beneath my feet.

David Black 13 years ago

Great year Hawks...Big 12 Champs, League and Tournament,Elite 8...thanks for the memories. Good job Coach Self...good luck next year. I am with you all the way.

Secuhawk 13 years ago

You have to admit , Kansas play was extremely bad at times ... we had numerous opportunities to pull this out but were unable to do so. I`m not so sure if UCLA was that good , or that KU was really that bad ! This one was a hard one to swallow!

mojayhawk 13 years ago

Congratulations, MEN, on a great season! What a fun ride you all gave us, and now ANYONE who says Coach Self can't coach doesn't understand NCAA basketball! Coach Self is the total package, a great recruiter, motivator, and competitor. Our team reflects his character and his spirit. I hope all of the guys decide to give it another round next year! 33-5. Be Proud! We're proud of you!

Rock Chalk!

Lance Hobson 13 years ago

Do you get the feeling we will never, ever go to another final 4? This was our chance, and we blew it. The future is bleak.

ku_bringback_danny 13 years ago

If Kansas played ucla 10 times they would win 9 of them. The Basketball Gods put a hoxe on the Hawks today. The way Kansas played defence today they would have beat any team but, sometimes the basketball gods wll prevent that. I had never seen so many shots not fall. It was like a ghost was in the rim.

stujayhawk 13 years ago

lee, unfortunately for me, KU sports is all I have. I don't have the cash to go out of state; I'm probably gonna end up an OSU cowboy (gross).

This has got to be the most talented KU team, at least potentially.

ku98 13 years ago

Stujayhawk, you are so young... I was at KU from 1994 to 1998, so I have seen my share of #1 seeds being wasted. 95, 96, 97, 98.... All amazing teams, great records, undefeated at home, and they never made it to the Final 4. We, KU fans, expect to win it all every year. That's what we do at a top basketball school like KU, so we all must learn to deal with the disappointment. Here's to another very good year of KU basketball! Not the perfect ending I envisioned, but I just love my Jayhawks!

michael anway 13 years ago

In the end Bill Self did all he could. His big men were just too unskilled missing layup after layup yet again as they have done all year. It's time to say goodbye to Kaun, Wright and Rush as they leave for the NBA. I guarantee those minutes will be a lot better served given to Chalmers, Collins and Arthur who are all TRUE atheltes and not players with glaring faults. Next year will be a final FOUR year because those player are and will be better college players!

Kuhawkdave 13 years ago

Do you think we will trade Kaun in the offseason?

rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 13 years ago

First I'm going to say something good on this year! Big twelve regular season champs and tournament champs!! Way to go! but What happened to night guys? We were missing shots my two year old brother could make. I thought Julian would come out and and just dominate over everyone, but that didn't happen. We would get a great steal and then turn it right over. Our defense just got weaker, we were giving afflo (however you spell it) lots of open looks. I just thought we were better than this. I thought we would go a lot farther, but dreams don't come true all the time! I hope All the players read these comments and stuff. Because please read this: Brandon do not go pro. I dont think your ready yet although you are very good. Just get a national championship next year and one of the top draft picks. Please!!!!!!!!!!!! I allready was reading some where that Julian was not going pro. so thats good thank you Julian. And Mario maybe you will get by as a good pick but why risk it? You need to stay too! Please guys! NEXT YEAR IS THE YEAR!

Thanks for the excitement this year!

hawkin34 13 years ago

God love the Jayhawks, but what happened tonight?

Why on earth did we stay with the no-set-offense offense that we played against SIU? Made sense against SIU; did not make sense against UCLA, especially when it became blatantly obvious that driving down the middle of the lane and having the ball stolen, dribbling off one of our feet, or getting the crap blocked out of our shots was not working. Where was the offense that created open three-point shots, easy lay-ups, and other open shots that we used all year long. UCLA's defense wasn't THAT good that we need to shift to a street-ball-drive-it-down-the-lane-every-single-time-offense.

All that being said, the Jayhawks played hard and had a great season. They deserved to get to the Final 4; unfortunately, they saved their worst game for tonight.

hawkaholic_kaun 13 years ago

the hawks are they best in my eyes..and noone can beat us at our best. we didn't exactly play our best last night. but i will never be embarrassed to be a JAYHAWK!!!!!! GREAT SEASON JAYHAWKS!!!!!!!

       ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK! GO KU!!!!!!!!!

Chris McIlvain 13 years ago

This year can be summed up like most of the past 20 years...way to go guys on a great regular season and a disappointing Post-season. Thus is the burden of being a Kansas Jayhawk Basketball fan.

Chris McIlvain 13 years ago

Roy Williams is 13 minutes from taking North Carolina to it's 2nd Final Four in 4 years. I can only imagine how heart-wrenching it's going to be for most KU fans when he wins his 2nd National Championship in 4 years with that team! But let's keep singing the praises of Bill Self! LOL!!!

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