Saturday, March 17, 2018

KU’s supporting cast pushes Jayhawks past Seton Hall and into Sweet 16

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets up for a rebound over Seton Hall forward Sandro Mamukelashvili (23) during the first half, Saturday, March 17, 2018 in Wichita, Kan.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets up for a rebound over Seton Hall forward Sandro Mamukelashvili (23) during the first half, Saturday, March 17, 2018 in Wichita, Kan.


Wichita — Even on a night when Kansas didn’t get its typical production out of star Devonte’ Graham, the senior’s teammates more than made up for it against Seton Hall at Intrust Bank Arena.

KU’s other three backcourt starters all produced double-digit points and gigantic sixth man Udoka Azubuike looked revived and ready inside as the Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 83-79 win over Seton Hall Saturday in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.

Sophomore guard Malik Newman led Kansas with 28 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Junior Lagerald Vick added 13 and senior Svi Mykhailiuk provided 16, as Graham gave his team eight points and nine assists versus the Pirates (22-12).

The top-seeded Jayhawks struggled offensively in the first half, hitting just 13 of 31 shots overall (41.9 percent) and 3 of 12 from 3-point range. Throw in seven turnovers on 35 possessions and KU only took a 31-26 lead into halftime, despite limiting Seton Hall to 10-for-31 shooting.

An uncharacteristic half of basketball from senior Graham (1 of 5 from the floor, four turnovers, two assists in 19 minutes) helped the upset-minded Pirates stick around.

So did dominating senior Seton Hall center Angel Delgado, who harmed KU with 24 points and 23 rebounds.

Without Azubuike’s 10 points and seven rebounds, Kansas might be headed home for the season. Instead, the Jayhawks reached the a regional semifinal for the third straight March.

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

• The game turned when: The Jayhawks unleashed a relatively-healthy-looking Azubuike to open the second half.

The 7-footer came off the bench again, as he continues to ease his way into playing with a recently-strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Playing 11 first-half minutes, Azubuike looked more ready for the demands of playing the post than he did two days earlier versus Penn, giving the Jayhawks (29-7) three points, four rebounds and a block.

But the sophomore center transformed into something close to his regular-season self after halftime.

Less than three minutes into the second half, Azubuike had an offensive rebound, and two massive jams, pushing Kansas to a double-digit lead.

After an ineffective first half of offense, KU began to roll with its massive center leading the way.

Azubuike finished 4 of 5 from the floor, and although some foul trouble meant he spent stretches of the second half on the bench, KU advanced thanks to his presence.

The Jayhawks were able to get out in front of Seton Hall and survive a frantic finish during which Khadeen Carrington scored 13 of his 28 points in the final 1:06.

• Offensive highlight: Azubuike officially introduced himself to the SetonHall frontcourt less than two minutes into the second half with the type of finish we’ve seen from him countless times this season.

Graham saw an opportunity to throw a lob for the 7-foot sophomore on the back side of Seton Hall’s defense and the senior point guard didn’t think twice about passing an alley-oop as high as he would to a healthy Azubuike.

The center, who started the second half in place of Mitch Lightfoot, exploded off the floor to hammer in a two-handed jam.

• Defensive highlight: The Pirates struggled to take care of the ball in the game’s opening minutes.

On one Seton Hall possession, Mykhailiuk saw an ill-timed Myles Cale entry pass to the paint coming from a mile away.

The senior KU guard jumped the pass, and pushed the ball ahead for Kansas.

Seconds later, the ball was back in Mykhailiuk’s hands on the perimeter, and he went straight into attack-mode, driving the ball downhill toward the paint.

As Seton Hall’s defense rotated toward the slashing senior from Ukraine, he rose up, presumably to take a contested floater on the right side of the floor.

Instead, Mykhailiuk floated a pass over the top of the rim and into the waiting hands of Azubuike, who scored his first basket of the NCAA Tournament on a powerful alley-oop, giving KU an 11-6 lead.

• Key stat: Points off turnovers. The Jayhawks needed all the help they could get versus a hard-fighting bunch of Pirates. When Seton Hall turned it over, KU got exactly the types of boosts it needed.

Kansas finished with 20 points off Seton Hall’s 15 giveaways in the second-round win. Conversely, the Pirates only scored five points off KU’s 11 miscues.

• Up next: The Jayhawks head on to Omaha, Neb., where they will face the victor of a second-round matchup between Auburn and Clemson.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Seton Hall

By the Numbers: Kansas 83, Seton Hall 79.

By the Numbers: Kansas 83, Seton Hall 79.


Austin Lopez 3 years ago

It's crazy how some months ago a lot of people on this blog didn't even expect this Kansas team to get this far. It's been fun watching Malik Newman grow, he took a lot of heat from so many on this blog at the beginning of the season and now he has hushed the critics up. Say what you want about the kid but he is balling out right now. Whoever is next, come get some. Rock Chalk Jayhawk !!!

Brian Skelly 3 years ago

I was absolutely one of the folks throwing shade on Newman.    To be fair,  for a good month or so he looked like he shouldn't even be playing D-I basketball.    More than anything,  I just think he needed to find his niche playing along side Graham and Svi.    I think once Self made it clear Newman HAD to be a bigger factor,  he responded as such.  
You could argue Newman's progression is what pushed us to Big 12 title # 14 in a row.   It was certainly a big part.

Dirk Medema 3 years ago

The crazy thing is that people write off players, or teams, or coach, or whatever just because things aren't going perfectly for some short period of time. So proud of all these guys for continuing to fight on game day and all the days in prep for it.

Joe Ross 3 years ago

Same score as ‘88 title. Good omen!!!

Scott Custer 3 years ago

Carrington was unconcious the last five minutes. Luckily so was Newman at the FT line.

Dave Miller 3 years ago

These guys are due a game of everyone clicking with everyone else on this team.

With that said, I only have this to add: ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK !!!

Justin Daniel 3 years ago

It's incredible what Coach Self and this team has done this year. Basically a 7 man rotation and we are a win shy of 30 wins. If Malik can continue to play at this caliber he could lead this team to the Final Four and himself to the NBA draft. Good luck in Omaha, it would be awesome to have a 10 year reunion in San Antonio.

Bryce Landon 3 years ago

Several thoughts on the game:

1) Udoka looked none the worse for the knee sprain. Good to see him back in action, but he has to be smarter about the fouls.

2) Malik Newman has come a long way from what he used to be. Early in the season, I cringed every time he tried to take the ball coast to coast because he was a blocked shot or turnover waiting to happen. Now here he is single-handedly winning the game with timely three-pointers and blow-by's, and putting up a perfect showing at the foul line.

3) If you had told me Devonte Graham would not hit a three-pointer and be held to 8 points (and I think that ends his streak of games with a three-pointer made), I'd have said we'd lose to Seton Hall. But we still won because everyone else had, for the most part, a solid game. And Devonte, instead of scoring, set up his teammates to score. Also played pretty good defense and turned The Hall over more than once.

4) The way this game went reminded me of so many of our nail-biting Big 12 victories this season. Anyone else feel that way?

5) Credit to Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington for The Hall. They were monsters that we couldn't do anything with. Delgado's stat line of 24 points and 23 rebounds was the same as Nick Collison's numbers in KU's win over Texas fifteen years ago (the game where Dick Vitale gave him a standing ovation). Delgado and Carrington were a credit to the game of basketball, even in defeat.

6) Most years I'm pissed when KU falls short of the Final Four, and I blame Bill Self for not having his team ready, or getting them too tight (like last year). Not this year. I know we are shorthanded, I know the players we have are somewhat lacking in talent as opposed to the likes of Villanova, Duke, and Michigan State, and I know our inside game isn't what it normally is. The fact that Self has gotten this motley crew of Jayhawks 29 wins to date, a Big 12 regular season title, a Big 12 postseason title, and a spot in the Sweet 16, speaks to a great coaching job.

7) I'm still in disbelief about Virginia faceplanting against Maryland-Baltimore County. I have to find a way to rewatch that game to make sure that what I saw was in fact what I saw. If someone issues a DVD of that game, I'm buying it!

Tim Orel 3 years ago

I remember KU playing UMBC a few times back in the day, but UMBC was one of those sacrificial lambs in it just for the guarantee money and to be able to say they played at AFH. I hope they beat their next opponent to show their game over VA wasn't a fluke.

Brian Mellor 3 years ago

UMBC plays K-State tomorrow, haha. Both KSU and WVU play the potential Cinderellas, with Marshall who beat Wichita State.

Bryce Landon 3 years ago

How would you like to be K-State going up against America's NCAA Tournament darling tomorrow?

Tony Bandle 3 years ago


1] He got screwed on two fouls..Angel Flopped.

2] YEP!!

3] Maybe unless I saw the box score. :].

4] Yes, especially the Hawks blowing big leads.

5] Agreed.. there were a couple of bad calls against them and I didn't see one indication of bad sportsmanship.

6] Most year.? How about every year they didn't make it! [Just kidding].

7' WHAT!! Virginia lost!! How come I'm always the last to know!!!!!!!

Mike Greer 3 years ago

One should also note, LaGerald has returned for the post season. Without his points we wouldn't have made it out of the first round. He hasn't been perfect but he's made some big plays and scored some crucial points. After a great Big XII tournament, a couple of guys have returned to their more typical games.

Just happy for the W and moving on to the next round. Rock Chalk!

Shannon Gustafson 3 years ago

It was also great to see Vick bouncing down the floor with joy after one of his 3's. Good to see him having fun again!

Armen Kurdian 3 years ago

Carrington was just out of his mind, I'm glad he made those shots because it made KU have to weather the hurricane. 13 points from one guy in 1:06 to end the game? That is just unreal.

This was a fight, and KU just kept punching back and had the final knockout after you thought it was over half a dozen times.

Brian Skelly 3 years ago

I told some my KU crew that I wanted to see us win a game in the tournament when Graham wasn't Golden. Or more importantly, didn't have to be. Tonight was that kinda game. To me, THAT is an encouraging sign. Especially considering Seton Hall was an awkward match up because of Delgado. Of course, after watching that guy play, he seems like a bad matchup for almost everyone. What a beast that dude is.

Justin Kruse 3 years ago

Sure wasn't pretty at times, but it's a "W".

Svi looked good when he decided to attack the hoop. Mitch needs to at least look at the basket when he gets the ball instead of passing it back immediately. We can't afford to pick up dumb fouls when setting screens!

I think we're due for a few games that we're all clicking and run through the rest of this tournament like we did the Big 12 tourney.

Rock Chalk

Dirk Medema 3 years ago

I thought the game turned when Malik made his two 3's at the end of the first half. Really thankful for his FT's, because SH almost flipped it back at the end.

Jonathan Allison 3 years ago

Newman made one three late in the second half when both Graham and Svi were playing timid and were shy to launch. Newman took and drained a deep contested three that had me really impressed by his confidence.

The game had gotten close and Svi and Graham appeared to be passing up three point attempts that they have been taking all year in favor of trying to create layups and short twos and they looked really tight. Then Newman gets the ball dribbles a step to his right, then a step to his left and elevates and drains it with a hand in his face. He's confident and loose.

Hopefully Bill Self really does some things to instill that confidence in all the guys this week. I want to see them come out playing with house money and taking risks like its January. The guys, especially Graham and Svi, may feel differently but I'd like to see them play like a team that's got nothing to lose. Like they're the Cinderella men and they're just gonna come out swinging.

Jonathan Allison 3 years ago

As a shooter, the only way to break free from a shooting slump is to keep shooting. And you tell your shooters all year, "Good shot! Keep shooting! It'll start going in soon!"

Then in March Madness guys get nervous and if they are in a slump then they defer instead of trying to shoot out of it. Graham, Svi, and Malik should all keep shooting it. Don't pass up an open 3 unless you are already salting away the game clock to secure the win, or if there's an open layup or dunk.

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