Kansas City, Mo. Masters of the comeback during the regular season, the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks couldn’t dig themselves out of their first massive hole of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night at Sprint Center.
The Pac-12 champion Oregon Ducks scored with ease for stretches, led by as many as 18 points in the second half and ended KU’s season one game away from the Final Four, with a 74-60 victory by the No. 3 seed in front of an angry, hostile, pro-Kansas crowd.
The Jayhawks, whose record when trailing by double digits this season dropped to 7-3, trailed by 11 at intermission. Their chances of winning a regional final for the first time in five seasons only worsened early in the second half, when Ducks big man Jordan Bell, stretch forward Dillon Brooks and guard Tyler Dorsey kept bringing the type of intensity that put coach Dana Altman’s bunch in such a choice position to begin with.
The trio and their cohorts kept attacking Kansas on both ends of the floor, in the second half and the region’s No. 1 seed couldn’t get any closer than six points before the Jayhawks’ season ended in the Elite Eight for the second season in a row, and fifth time in Bill Self’s 14 seasons as head coach.
View a gallery of images from the Jayhawks' Elite Eight matchup against the Ducks on Saturday at Sprint Center.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Oregon big man Bell proved too long, quick and athletic for the Jayhawks to score in the paint with ease or win the battle of the glass.
Bell scored 11 points, but made a much larger impact on defense, snagging 13 rebounds, swatting away eight Kansas shots and altering many other drives and shots in the paint with his wingspan and hops.
The Ducks out-scored Kansas 32-28 in the paint, out-rebounded the favorite 36-32 and limited the Jayhawks to 35-percent shooting.
• Offensive highlight: Outstanding senior point guard Frank Mason III’s final game in a KU uniform came and went with him leading the team in scoring, with 21 points.
With his team in an obvious funk in the first half, the 5-foot-11 guard tried to change his destiny.
Mason scored 15 consecutive points for the Jayhawks. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t nearly enough.
• Defensive highlight: Truthfully, little stood out about KU’s defense in the season-ending loss.
The Ducks nailed 11 of 25 3-pointers (44 percent) and shot 51 percent from the floor overall, while outscoring Kansas (31-5) in each half.
Freshman Josh Jackson (10 points, 12 rebounds) finally broke into the flow of the game in the second half and grabbed seven of his nine defensive boards in the final 20 minutes.
And other than one Landen Lucas block and a couple of Svi Mykhailiuk steals, the Jayhawks found limited success while trying to stop the Ducks (33-5).
• Key stat: Three-point shooting. The rims seemed tight for Kansas all night long, and despite their 3-point accuracy throughout the season, KU only connected on five of 25 (20 percent) from downtown on this fateful night.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will head into the offseason filled with disappointment, and months to wait before a different assortment of talent takes another crack at getting back to the Final Four.
— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.