Thursday, March 15, 2018

No. 1 seed Jayhawks eliminate potential March Cinderella Penn

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) slap hands after Graham was fouled on a three-point shot during the first half, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) slap hands after Graham was fouled on a three-point shot during the first half, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.


Wichita — A pre-tournament darling before March Madness even tipped off, 16th-seeded University of Pennsylvania won the opening minutes of its anticipated Thursday afternoon meeting with No. 1 seed Kansas and followed through with some second-half fight, too, at Intrust Bank Arena.

But the team with basketball pedigree and a potential All-American senior on its side successfully shattered some Cinderella dreams.

The Big 12 regular-season and postseason champion Jayhawks moved on to the NCAA Tournament’s second round with a 76-60 victory over the Ivy League champion Quakers.

Senior KU point guard Devonte’ Graham not only led the team in scoring (29 points) but did a bit of everything (six assists, six rebounds) to assure the Jayhawks of their 12th consecutive victory in the tournament’s opening round.

Kansas (28-7) knocked down 7 of 17 3-pointers (41 percent) against a Penn team (24-9) known for its successful defense outside of the arc.

Graham (3 of 8), Lagerald Vick (2 of 4, 14 points) and Svi Mykhailiuk (2 of 3, 10 points) all drained multiple 3-pointers versus the Quakers, who entered the NCAA Tournament with a 3-point percentage defense of 29.2.

Kansas improved to 34-13 in the Big Dance under the guidance of 15th-year head coach Bill Self.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: KU’s likely first-team All-American decided it was time to take over and carry his team to the next round.

Kansas trailed by 10 points 12 minutes into the opening-round matchup, after just 1 of its first 8 attempts from 3-point range dropped. Penn, meanwhile got off to a 4-for-7 start from long range, building a 21-11 lead against the Midwest’s No. 1 seed.

After an Antonio Woods layup put the Jayhawks in a double-digit hole, Graham had seen enough.

The Big 12 Player of the Year and the face of this KU team, Graham scored 15 of his 19 first-half points in the final 7:03.

During the game-altering stretch Graham was nearly flawless, making 5 of 6 shots and contributing a steal, an offensive rebound, a defensive rebound, an assist and a 3-for-3 trip to the foul line to close the opening half.

Thanks to Graham assertive approach, the Jayhawks headed to the locker room up 33-26 after opening the game 5 of 20 from the floor.

Although Penn would go on to narrow the Kansas lead to as low as four in the opening minutes of the second half, momentum within the game and the pro-KU arena shifted for good with Graham’s first-half show.

• Offensive highlight: Typical Kansas starting center Udoka Azubuike only played three minutes in the first half as the team took a look at how his injured left knee would hold up in game action.

The 7-footer known for his monster dunks wasn’t that explosive in his return to the court and didn’t attempt a shot, so the offensive fireworks had to originate from elsewhere.

Enter the bouncy legs of KU junior Vick.

The guard’s easiest points of the win came in crunch time in the second half, with the Jayhawks up 11.

Mykhailiuk spotted Vick cutting to the rim with the Penn defense out of position and fed his teammate a lob. Vick didn’t throw it down quite as emphatically as he has in the past, but in a KU game featuring only two slams, this one stood out, especially because it seemed Vick, as Self stated the day before, might be on an uptick.

• Defensive highlight: The defensive play itself didn’t seem especially spectacular in the instant it occurred, but a Graham steal on the perimeter might have been the single play that propelled Kansas out of its early-game funk.

Solid half-court defense from the Jayhawks had Penn searching out a scoring avenue with the shot clock winding down. As Quakers sixth man Caleb Wood dribbled from the right wing toward the top of the key, he began to gather the ball and KU’s point guard cleanly smacked it away with 7:10 to go in the first half and his team down 10 points.

Graham secured the newly loose ball and pitched it ahead to fellow senior Mykhailiuk. Although the guard from Ukraine missed a transition layup, Graham sprinted behind him and tipped the miss in.

The all-around hustle of Graham accounted for two of KU’s nine points off turnovers (Penn gave it away seven times) in the first half.

The steal ignited a 22-5 Kansas run leading into intermission.

• Key stat: Points in the paint. Even without a healthy Azubuike and limited offensive contributions from Mitch Lightfoot (nine points, five in the final 3 minutes) and Silvio De Sousa (two points), Kansas made sure to seek out interior shot attempts.

As a result, the Jayhawks out-scored the Quakers, 34-20 in points in the paint.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will be back at Intrust Bank Arena Saturday to face the winner of Seton Hall versus North Carolina State, with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Penn

By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Penn 60.

By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Penn 60.


Bryce Landon 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm glad we won, of course, but that first half was hard on my digestive system! If I'm Seton Hall or North Carolina State, I am licking my chops for shot at Kansas after a lackluster performance like that.

Dave Miller 2 years, 4 months ago

For me, it wasn't my digestive system, it was somewhere between a stroke and a coronary -- a strokonary? lol

Maher Nawaz 2 years, 4 months ago

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Doug Merrill 2 years, 4 months ago

If they are doing that then they are each going to have trouble later today. My guess is that they are smarter than that, tho.

Chris DeWeese 2 years, 4 months ago

Survive and advance. It wasn't pretty, but KU got the job done. As long as they stay focused, they should be fine.

Alan Dickey 2 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. I recall in 2002, we beat 16 seed Holy Cross (a much worse team than this year's Penn team) by only 11, and we were up by 5 with only a few minutes left. But we went on the Final 4. Hopefully, the Jayhawks got the jitters out of their system.

Alan Dickey 2 years, 4 months ago

Bryce I also experienced some nausea through the first 12 minutes (before we went on the 22-5 run to end the half) and then again when Penn pulled within 5 in the second half.

In the end though, KU won by 16. KenPom predicted a 14-point win by KU. So, we actually did a little better than what should be expected. Penn played great defense for much of the game, but, as expected, we eventually wore them down.

Hopefully, Dok will be more available on Saturday. If we were in danger late in the game, I assume Self would have put Dok back in the game. We'll be a lot more effective, I assume, when we have Dok, Silvio, and Mitch all healthy and available.

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 4 months ago

the good news is that we won't face a better 16th seed till at least next year.

Ryan Zimmerman 2 years, 4 months ago

We're going to have to rebound better, especially if we play Seton Hall. Vick can't continue to watch and not box out and let the opposition rebound. Seton Hall is a top 50 rebounding margin team. We're barely in the top 200.

That will be key

Drew Doerfler 2 years, 4 months ago

i don't get why people were thinking Penn would have a chance at the upset? After watching them play, i thought they were a VERY average team at best. They are short, slow, average shooters, and horrible free throw shooters. The good news for KU is that they won and Devonte had another great game. the bad new? outside of Graham, KU did not look good at all! for the majority of the game we were even with rebounding (seriously our guards always just stand there around the 3 point line just watching as shots are put's hard for me to continuously effort whatsoever the majority of the time to go get a rebound) we gave them wide open 3 after wide open 3, and didn't take advantage of our athleticism advantage till the very end. KU needs to be a lot closer to the team that won the big 12 tournament than the team that showed up today. but a win is a win and tomorrow a new day. ;)

Tom Jones 2 years, 4 months ago

This team has proven several times that they can lose to average or slightly above average teams if they have a bad shooting day. They're not as tough or as big as most KU teams and suffer from more effort lapses than most KU teams.

Penn was not a joke and not a 16 seed.

All of the above added up to perfectly understandable consternation from KU fans.

Mallory Briggans 2 years, 4 months ago

I didn't get to watch the game.....checked the box score....SDS only got 10 minutes ......did Self give any reason?.......SDS is good for 8 to 10 rebounds in a game.....rebounds mean possesions and that is a very important key to winning ....

Kent Richardson 2 years, 4 months ago

Mitch was really good inside and on defense. He would be a top tier player in the Ivy. Silvio was okay but kind of uninspired. No turnovers but not on top of his defensive game. I thought it made sense. Not real encouraged by Dok's return when he didn't or couldn't roll to the basket and push off on his right leg.

Overall we played about to our normal level except for the first 13 minutes. We looked tight and DeVonte confirmed that as his belief also.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 4 months ago

Give Lightfoot another 2 years at Kansas and he might turn into a top-tier player in the BIG 12.

Sousa was fine but Lightfoot was more effective today.

Alan Dickey 2 years, 4 months ago

We outrebounded Penn 41-33. That being said, I was a little surprised that Self did put Silvio in a bit more. It's probably because Mitch snagged 11 of those rebounds.

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 4 months ago

Mitch was really good in the second half. No reason to take him out.

Ben Kane 2 years, 4 months ago

Silvio got schooled on D by Penn every time.

Doug Stahler 2 years, 4 months ago

That's the correct answer to the above questions.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 4 months ago

Penn might be Ivy League but they won their conference title and their tournament title as well. Going against upperclassman, Silvio made some mistakes.

Andrew Holmes 2 years, 4 months ago

All but three of our guys had never seen action in the NCAA tournament. (Svi, Graham, Vick) Lightfoot saw some time last year, but Silvio, Newman, Garrett, Dok, etc. had zero experience. i believe they'll be more relaxed on Saturday when they play Seton Hall or NC State.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 4 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Thank God Dok didn't dive into the scrum for the loose ball. I think at that point Bill had seen enough and told the big fella to put on your sweats and take a seat!

2] Would someone please tell Marcus Garrett that he IS allowed to shoot a jump shot especially when he is open ten feet from the basket.

3] Sounds like everyone is now having us lose to Seton Hall, and, if by some miracle we survive till the Elite Eight, the walk-ons for either Duke or Michigan State will bury us. Just keep talking, boys, just keep talking!!

4] Well, we are 4-0 essentially without Dok but I don't know if we will be able to get away with it much longer.

5] Oklahoma may have accomplished the greatest nose dive with a potential POY starter in their line up in all the history of the NCAA!!!!

6] Fearless Forecast - in a close one, KU 73- Seton Hall 69.

Tom Jones 2 years, 4 months ago

I am fine with Marcus not shooting jumpers unless he's wide open and in rhythm (and even then...only if we're deep into the shot clock). He's not good at them yet (and he may never be but I think he'll improve) and we have a team full of good shooters around him.

I am not fine with passing up an open jumper to plow iinto a defender who's been set for several minutes.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 4 months ago

I have a theory that picking against us is the fallout from 14 and counting. It is by far the most dominant part of the game and one of the few places where there isn't parity. It doesn't help that almost no one else is doing anything else nationally. The non-Jayhawks have generally accepted that they can't pick against us in conference so all that animosity is saved for the tournament.

Bryce Landon 2 years, 4 months ago

Somebody from the LJW needs to do something about these spambots from the Middle East.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 4 months ago

we need Dok bad, and he does not look real good, maybe 50%. I'm worried.

Steve Zimmerman 2 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone know how to watch the replay? Would you share the info? Thanks! Great opening win, BTW.. Rock Chalk!!!

Bill Lamson 2 years, 4 months ago

Anyone know if you can watch a reply of the game online? CBS used to make replays available but it doesn't look like they do anymore. ...oops...just noticed someone else literally just asked the same thing...well hopefully one of us finds it.

2 years, 4 months ago

Steve and Bill, the regular season games come up on YouTube a couple days later, but as for the NCAA tourny not so sure. RCJH

Danny Hernandez 2 years, 4 months ago

you ppl were worried? I knew in the end it would be a 12+ point win. Tomorrow, the same result

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