Friday, March 23, 2018

Kansas survives close call vs. Clemson to advance to Elite Eight

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) heads in against the Clemson defense during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) heads in against the Clemson defense during the first half, Friday, March 23, 2018 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.


Omaha, Neb. — It wouldn’t be March without a little drama.

Although top-seeded Kansas looked in control against Clemson early in the second half, the Tigers rallied to make the Jayhawks sweat before KU escaped CenturyLink Center with a 80-76 victory Friday night.

Much like KU’s second-round win six days earlier against Seton Hall, senior star Devonte’ Graham, who missed each of his first five shot attempts, didn’t have his most effective night. Graham hit 4 of 12 shots, and finished with 17 points, four assists and five rebounds.

But sophomore guard Malik Newman (17 points on 6-of-11 shooting), junior Lagerald Vick (13 points, eight rebounds) and sophomore center Udoka Azubuike (14 points, 11 boards) helped get Kansas to its third consecutive Elite Eight.

KU’s balance was just enough to offset a huge night from Tigers senior Gabe DeVoe, who delivered a career-high 31 points.

Graham made a pair of free throws with 12 seconds remaining to give Kansas a manageable 80-74 cushion.

Kansas improved to 30-7 with the victory, giving 15th-year coach Bill Self his ninth 30-win season while in charge of the program.

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

• The game turned when: KU put Clemson in a 20-point hole less than two minutes into the second half.

Although the Tigers were the first to strike out of the locker room, with Marcquise Reed (13 points) scoring on the opening possession, the game felt out of reach before the half’s first media timeout.

Vick knocked down his third 3-pointer of the game on KU’s opening possession of the second half.

All of 42 seconds later, another KU shooter was ready to fire on the catch. Graham tried to lob to Azubuike for a potential basket inside but when the center caught the ball in the paint out of position he wisely looked to the opposite corner, setting up Newman with a pass for a 3-pointer.

One missed Elijah Thomas shot later, Newman fed Graham for his first successful 3-point try of the night and the Tigers trailed 49-29, prompting Clemson coach Brad Brownell to call a timeout 1:43 after intermission.

The Tigers later trimmed the lead to as little as four in the final minutes, thanks in large part to both Graham and Azubuike having to sit out stretches with foul trouble (Azubuike fouled out with 2:30 to play). But the opening few minutes of the second half helped the Midwest’s No. 1 seed survive those less-than-ideal lineups against the No. 5 seed.

• Offensive highlight: The Jayhawks came through with so many dunks — six in total — while building a 13-point lead by halftime, it was hard to choose just one.

Here were two that easily stood out above the rest.

Giving Azubuike a breather in the first half, Silvio De Sousa hustled his way to jaw-dropping fast-break jam.

Graham had just secured a defensive rebound and began pushing the ball up the floor at a standard rate. Most of the players on the court at the time followed the point guard’s pace in transition. But not De Sousa.

The freshman backup saw an open runway toward the hoop as he made his way into the front court. With his right index finger pointed toward the arena roof, De Sousa headed to the paint and Graham lofted a pass toward the right side of the backboard.

With no resistance from any Tigers, De Sousa rose up to hammer home a two-handed slam.

It wasn’t the only time a spectacular finish came as the result of some good, old-fashioned hustle.

When Svi Mykhailiuk (nine points) couldn’t get a well-defended layup to drop, Vick had his back with a weak-side crash.

As the miss bounced off the rim, Vick exploded, high above every other player on the floor to fire home a one-handed jam.

• Defensive highlight: A high schooler back in December, De Sousa made a bit of a name for himself in March Madness on both ends of the floor versus Clemson.

When Tigers junior David Skara found De Sousa checking him at the top of the key in the second half, the 6-8 forward drove past his freshman defender with no trouble.

However, Skara couldn’t make KU pay with a layup or dunk.

The Jayhawks’ 6-9 sub from Angola smacked Skara’s attempt off the glass, keeping the KU’s lead at 20 points with less than 11 minutes to play.

• Key stat: Points in the paint. A solid defensive team, Clemson entered the game allowing opponents to make just 43.8 percent of their 2-point field-goal attempts.

However, the Tigers’ defense inside the arc couldn’t stop KU from finding high-percentage shots in the key early on.

In the first half, Kansas put up 26 points in the paint, while Clemson only managed 12.

The Tigers won the paint in the second half, though, making it such a tight game. The teams finished tied at 34 in points in the paint, each using the interior to fuel their best half.

• Up next: The Jayhawks will return to CenturyLink Center on Sunday to face another ACC opponent, the winner of the other Midwest semifinal, between Duke and Syracuse.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Clemson

By the Numbers: Kansas 80, Clemson 76.

By the Numbers: Kansas 80, Clemson 76.


Tony Bandle 3 years, 6 months ago

KU went into the NFL's version of the prevent almost became the prevent victory offense.

Still win and move on.

By the way, this was the sixth game I have taped and not watched live and KU has won all six. Should I do it Sunday or enjoy our live pasting of Puke!!??

Titus Canby 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't stop now! What's the line? It's not dumb if it works?

Mike Greer 3 years, 6 months ago

The "prevent" almost blew a 20 point lead. It never should have gotten that close. Most of the game the guys played really well, but the last five minutes or so, wasn't pretty basketball. Duke or Cuse, they're going to need to play the full 40 Sunday.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 6 months ago

Typical coach Self. We won, for now. So, congrats, coaches and players!!! But facing a different team, might result in different outcome if we kept playing 'run the clock' charity offense style. I dare KU coaching staff to use that same strategy against Dookies when we are up by 20. Our team plays in the tournament - but we don't show toughness in finishing the game. Where's that 'put your whole heart and soul into each play' in KU? We actually helped the Tiger to claw their way back up. Good luck the rest of the journey!

Drew Doerfler 3 years, 6 months ago

good news : KU played great basketball for 3/4 of the game! Newman is playing really well. Vick had a good game and was crashing the boards and playing with some energy. Bad news : that last 6 minutes was really, really bad basketball and decision making....also, to have any chance of beating (probably) Duke, Graham is going to have to play a helluva lot better than he did today and shoot a lot better than he has in the tournament (13 for 43). He didn't look great today at all. But hey, Elite 8 with a depleted team is pretty damn good! RCJH!!! and Garrett needs to join Azubuike this summer in shooting 1000 free throws every day. He is shooting under 50% for the season. Which, for a guard, is pretty pathetic.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 6 months ago

3 fourths of the game we played well, that last quarter....damn....

David Howell 3 years, 6 months ago

Embarrassing win ...... So many stupid fouls and bad decisions the last 12 minutes or so. Coach wouldn't call a timeout and they needed guidance in the worst way. For a while it was starting to be HCBS's worst coaching job since they lost to Oklahoma.

Anything close to that and Duke or Syracuse beat them by over 10 .........

Drew Doerfler 3 years, 6 months ago

can't say it was a great coaching job in the last 6 minutes....but a win is a win....and why, oh why, do they inbounding the ball late in games to one of our players in the back corner with nowhere to go so that they are very easily trapped....i don't understand

Dirk Medema 3 years, 6 months ago

We finished with only one TO remaining. You don't want to be completely out at the very end and pull a weber. He used his TO's wisely, and hopefully won't be trading seats with you any time soon.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 6 months ago

the box score on this game was as close as the score. both teams just played better than the other at different times of the game.

Tracey Graham 3 years, 6 months ago

As soon as they got up by 20 points, the Jayhawks stopped playing hard on either end of the floor. They fouled on basically every other Clemson possession, and dribbled or passed the ball around aimlessly on offense. Honestly, if Clemson had had another 2-3 minutes, they probably would have won. Time just ran out on them. Similar to what happened against Seton Hall.

Coach Self has to knock it into the plaers' heads that they need to play aggressively and attack for all 40 minutes. Not for 20.

On twitter, there are jokes abot KU players point shaving, since Clemson covered the spread -- just like Seton Hall did

Jaston Archie 3 years, 6 months ago

Once again everyone ignores the fact that Devonte Graham tried to singlehandeldy lose this game, a total liability. Couldn't throw a rock in ocean and made terrible turnovers and fouls on top of that. He hasn't played well this entire tournament and hopefully he shows up on Sunday if KU wants any chance to advance. The Devonte against Oregon last year is showing up and it's vey terrifying

Dirk Medema 3 years, 6 months ago

That is just amazingly ignorant. We built the lead with Graham leading the way. No one is saying he had a great game, but what is apparently missed across the board is that Clemson started to crawl back into the game when Graham got in foul trouble. Silvio played fairly well backing up Dok in this one, but the reality is the same now as it has been all year - there is no back-up for Devonte, and we flounder like so many other collection of talent non-pg's.

Devonte is at least the linch-pin for the team, even when he isn't scoring points.

Gerry Butler 3 years, 6 months ago

You know I tried. - -I really did. - - when I read your cartoon statement - -I said deep breathes but NOPE can't do it. - -my main question would be I guess is - - how long did you think before making a statement like that? Total liability? roflmao - - a total liability ? - -did you hear yourself - did you read what you typed? - Holy Crap - -a final four guy for player of the year and you say he is a total liability.- -You do see where there is more to the game then just scoring right? - Did you see your so called liability throw the perfect lob from the mid court line ? - Did you see your liability step up in crunch time and hit critical free throws - which by the way your total liability has to be able to draw those fouls to get to the line. -Was you watching the same game most others were? - -Even the commentators was talking about two of the fouls called on him VERY questionable calls. - Total liability? - -- single handedly?- - -mercy - - -please do us a favor, the next time you get the urge to post - -" THINK " - before you post - -thanks - have a great day - -now go rest , your brain needs it

Kit Duncan 3 years, 6 months ago

Possessions were the key in the closing minutes. KU was up five (3pt) possessions with four minutes to go. KU passed on a couple of opportunities to score early in the shot clock in the last couple minutes, instead choosing to run the clock down on those occasions before taking (and missing) guarded shots. Clock was more important than final score in the end.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 6 months ago

I didn't get to see the game because I had to work tonight in Iowa City, and I'm glad we won. I had a professor in grad school who is a die-hard Clemson fan, and I know he would have let me have it if Kansas had blown this game.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't overlook Silvio when handing out the praise. He was part of a two-headed monster from our center position...23pts...17reb...3blks.

And its spoiled rotten stupidity to preface any conjecture about the next game with "if we have any chance of winning" we've got to blah, blah, blah. Hell, we're 30-7 and conference champs and rolling. I guarantee that no team left standing is looking forward to playing the Hawks!

Dirk Medema 3 years, 6 months ago

3 teams left standing from the conference, though none are probably favored to win this weekend.

Al Martin 3 years, 6 months ago

For a complete non-sequitor, I'm a big fan of Bill Raftery and really like the announcing team for the Midwest regional. However, Raftery seems to think Doke's last name is "osso bucco". They kept talking about going to dinner after the Duke-Syracuse game, so maybe he was just hungry.

Kent Richardson 3 years, 6 months ago

We panicked at the end and survived. We did the same favor to Clemson when we were comfortably up that WVU did for us at Allen. Outsmarted ourselves just like Huggy did for WVU.

Do we have a propensity for letting one player from each team have a career night?

It's always the same thing which is easing up, as DeVonte said, when we have a lead. Anyone who has a lead on us isn't safe and anyone who is down to us isn't out of it. I guess it evens out.

Austin Lopez 3 years, 6 months ago

Why are so many of you complaining? Enjoy the moment to be moving to the next round because I could of swore at the start of the season a lot of you said this team wouldn’t get past the second round. No matter the results this team has overachieved period! So shut up and enjoy some damn basketball and stop complaining!!!

Jerry Walker 3 years, 6 months ago

Amen to that. This has been a really fun season...beginning with the European summer tour to a chance of winning the national championship.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 6 months ago

Both seniors had surprisingly quiet nights. I wonder how much of that was extra focus from Clemson in guarding Svi & D'tae.

It is good to be so balanced, and great to have Vick and Newman both rekindled. Also nice to have another strong game from Silvio off the bench. I sure hope Dok's knee recovers quickly. He seemed to be limping noticeably at the end.

Chad Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

Blaming graham is so poor. He made key passes and he facilitates the team perfectly. Yeah he shot the ball poor. He also scored in double figures, grabbed rebounds, made assists, got steals and led the team once again. Not everything is tangible from the box score. We are at our best with graham running the show, and getting his teammates involved in the game. So quick to jump on the kid, i get it, high expectations. But he is a true leader and does a great job. #ROCKCHALK. #BEATPUKE

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 6 months ago

I have come to the conclusion that Jaston is just a troll who likes to tweak everybody with his insanity. He has never had a reasonably cogent remark.

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