Saturday, March 31, 2018

Villanova knocks Kansas out at the Final Four

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) looks at the scoreboard as he and Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) head to the bench during a timeout in the first half, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) looks at the scoreboard as he and Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) head to the bench during a timeout in the first half, Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.


San Antonio — “The road ends here,” the Final Four slogan goes.

Those four words plastered all over the River Walk and surrounding areas, including The Alamodome, site of the NCAA Tournament semifinals, proved true for Kansas on Saturday night.

After leading the Jayhawks to the program’s 14th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, a conference tournament crown and KU’s first Final Four berth since 2012, a momentous run concluded two days ahead of college basketball’s ultimate destination, with a 95-79 loss to Villanova.

The same program that extinguished KU’s title hopes one game shy of the Final Four in 2016 again wrecked the postseason plans of coach Bill Self and guards Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk — this time a game short of the national championship game.

The Wildcats’ red-hot shooting out of the gate, in front of 68,257 fans, all but buried the Jayhawks in the opening 20 minutes.

Self suffered a national semifinal loss for the first time in his third trip to the Final Four. Kansas fell to 9-6 all-time in the national semifinals.

Graham scored 23 points in his final game in a Kansas uniform.

Sophomore Malik Newman, hot throughout most of March for the Jayhawks, scored 21 on 6-for-14 shooting.

Eric Paschall led Villanova with 24 points, making 10 of 11 shots. All-American guard Jalen Brunson went for 18 points and six assists.

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

• The game turned when: Villanova came out intent on setting the nets ablaze.

It only took 16 minutes and 13 seconds in the first half for Villanova to tie the Final Four record for 3-pointers in a game.

When Phil Booth drilled his team’s 13th, from the right wing, the Wildcats led by 15, having connected on 13 of their first 21 attempts from beyond the arc.

That shot equaled the 13 made over the course of an entire game by UNLV, in 1987.

Although KU scored the semifinal’s first basket, a shot in the paint by starting center Udoka Azubuike, a barrage of Villanova 3-pointers soon followed. The Wildcats led by as many as 18 before halftime as a result. All five of their starters made two or more from deep in the first 20 minutes, with AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson (13 first-half points, 3 of 6 on 3-pointers) leading the charge. Eric Paschall knocked down both of his tries. Big man Omari Spellman made a pair in the first four minutes and entered halftime 2 of 6. Versatile wing Mikal Bridges hit 2 of 4 from deep, as did Booth, setting up a 47-32 halftime lead for the 2016 national champions.

Villanova set a new Final Four record when Paschall gave his team a 14th exactly a minute into the second half, after he picked up a loose ball following a Udoka Azubuike blocked shot.

The Wildcats moved on to Monday’s national title game against Michigan after hitting 18 of 40 3-pointers.

• Offensive highlight: The way Villanova shot the ball, few plays on the opposite end of the floor seemed nearly as devastating.

But Azubuike at least got to unleash some of his frustrations on the rim in the first half.

With Spellman getting a breather on the bench, Azubuike caught backup big Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree on his hip in the paint. The sophomore 7-footer for Kansas quickly sealed his defender, creating an opportunity for Svi Mykhailiuk to make an entry pass over the top.

Azubuike (eight points, five rebounds), though unsuccessful at tearing down the rim, delivered a thunderous, two-handed slam to cut Villanova’s lead to 12 with a little less than six minutes left in the first half.

• Defensive highlight: Considering Villanova shot 55 percent from the floor it would be difficult to consider much of what Kansas did defensively as a success.

So give this category to the way the Jayhawks kept a potential lottery pick, Mikal Bridges, from taking off offensively.

Bridges only scored 10 points, well below his average of 17.8 per game, on 4-for-8 shooting in 31 minutes.

However, with the attention KU gave to Bridges, Paschall was able to thrive.

• Key stat: KU 3-point attempts.

While the Jayhawks obviously had their issues defensively against the multi-threat talents of the Wildcats, the Big 12 champions weren’t even able to keep pace, because they couldn’t find for themselves the same quality long-range looks Villanova attempted time after time.

The Wildcats better defended the 3-point arc by far, limiting a Kansas team that thrives on perimeter shooting to 7-for-21 success from downtown.

• Up next: The Jayhawks head back to Lawrence with a 31-8 record to show for their 2017-18 season after losing on a neutral court for the first time this year in their finale.

Self and Kansas will reload — like always — and soon start working toward a possible 2019 Final Four trip. Kansas is set to add at least three McDonald’s All-Americans to its rotation next year, with signees Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes and David McCormack joining the roster.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Villanova

By the Numbers: Villanova 95, Kansas 79.

By the Numbers: Villanova 95, Kansas 79.


Joe Joseph 3 years, 8 months ago

Congrats to both teams. Nova was incredible.

Danny Hernandez 3 years, 8 months ago

18 3's! Surprised nova didn't win by at least 30 the way they were shooting

Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

It felt like a rerun of the Oklahoma State game in Stillwater. It was no fun to watch, but at least I had TNT going to listen to Dave Armstrong, Scot Pollard, and Ron Riggle. I guarantee if I had watched the TBS national feed, listening to the national announcers gushing over Villanova with their East Coast bias would have made the loss all the more painful.

Keith Cahalen 3 years, 8 months ago

Congratulations to the 2017-2018 KU mens' basketball team on a GREAT season! Many doubted your ability, but Bill coached, Devonte led, the team grew, players upped their game and results showed for themselves - Big 12 League Champion for 14th year, Big 12 Tournament Champion and a trip to the Final Four.

We ran into a hot team tonight ... and could not recover from the initial onslaught. And I have full confidence in Bill changing his defensive strategy after viewing the game film... after all, as a coach and for a team, you have to decide what risk you want to take ... in the Villanova case, give up the 3 or risk them driving by you ... when Villanova plays defense, they obviously do NOT want to give up the 3 ... they will take the risk of you driving by, but of course, that approach always allows support from your other team members - as opposed to be one-on-one on an island beyond the 3 point line ...

so onto 2018-2019 ... what an amazing team we will have and, as always, interesting to see who comes back - especially after this loss have a great off-season all

Joel Thomas 3 years, 8 months ago

Kansas had no answers for anything. Awful game to end a great year. I feel sad and angry.

Bill Corrigan 3 years, 8 months ago

When you're hot, you're hot. Talk about shooting the lights out --an incredible shooting display by 'Nova.

Nonetheless, nothing can diminish the Jayhawks' memorable 2017-18 campaign; a truly magical postseason ride for the players, coaches and fans. All that return to Lawrence tomorrow should certainly carry a lot of pride in their individual and team accomplishments.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 8 months ago

I am officially adding Villanova to a list of teams I absolutely hate. That's what, three straight losses to them? I'm sick of losing to Villanova. I HATE VILLANOVA!!!

On the bright side, we made a Final Four appearance for the first time in six years, which is way more than I expected from this motley crew of Jayhawks back in December when Arizona State ran us out of Allen Fieldhouse. If it wasn't for Bill Self's coaching, Devonte Graham's leadership, and Malik Newman's postseason emergence, we wouldn't have been one of the last four teams standing. So thanks guys. I will always be proud of you.

Here's to all the underclassmen coming back in 2019, going to Minneapolis, and taking care of unfinished business!

Rock Chalk Kansas Basketball!

Tracey Graham 3 years, 8 months ago

Disappointing end to a great season. I really thought this would be a close game, but the Jayhawks had no answers for Villanova, and the Wildcats got way too many wide open three-pointers.

Good luck to Devonte' and Svi in the future. They will be missed

Tony Bandle 3 years, 8 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Next to Tom Izzo, Jay Wright might be the ugliest coach in Division One.

2] At least Dok will have a few days to visit with his Mom and not be interrupted by practice or a title game.

3] Lagerald Vick....declare.....PLEASE!!!

4] Our season long weakness of our perimeter three point defense becomes exposed nationwide at a very inconvenient time. [Luckily, the game was televised on cable].

5] Bill needs to red shirt Marcus Garrett so he can practice all year long on how to make a basket!

6] Although the last game was painful, it was great to have Devonte play in a Final Four.

7] Results notwithstanding, Bill's resume looks so much more impressive with three Final Fours instead of two.

8] Now watch Villanova go 4 for 34 three pointers against Michigan and lose in overtime!!!

9] You knew it was over for Loyola when Sister jean, like Elvis, left the building.

10] Svi made some baskets but he really kind of sucked all night.

Craig Alexander 3 years, 8 months ago

Always sucks ending with a loss like this but these are great kids! Thank you for everything. Hope Svi and devontae get drafted and have successful careers.

Brianna Zaleski 3 years, 8 months ago

Hard not to be pissed.

Was our game plan just to hope they missed open 3’s? Because every single one of them was uncontested. Really disappointing.

Congrats on an overachieving season nonetheless.

Love my Jayhawks

Lawrence McGlinn 3 years, 8 months ago

I echo your frustration. We seemed not well prepared defensively, like they tried something new too late in the season. Some of our guys were running away from shooters on the 3-point line. It is more frustrating because it is the second time in three years we played terrible losing to Villanova. I think we did "overachieve" this year, though, and we got past the elite eight, so on balance a really good year..

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 8 months ago

We didn't actually play terrible this time. We scored 77 points, shot 45% from the field, made 16 of 20 free throws, tied them in rebounds, only had 9 turnovers, etc. We just played a team that was shooting lights out. When that happens, there is no team in the country that can beat them (just like the few games this year when we made nearly 20 3's and looked unstoppable). I'd much rather lose a game like this to a team that was just flat out better than us than lay an egg like Oregon last year or just stop competing at the end like against Michigan a few years ago.

Also all of their 3's weren't contested. Many of them were well defended and still went in.

RJ King 3 years, 8 months ago

You saw what we saw. It was like we were playing the Warriors.

Tom Jones 3 years, 8 months ago

Both teams had a ton of open shots, but they were better defensively than we were. This wasn't a great defensive team at KU.

But Villanova would have beaten anyone on Saturday.

Blake Phillips 3 years, 8 months ago

Proud of the team! Another Final Four banner to hang in the rafters. Only concern I have with this team all year was Marcus Garret. I think his defense is okay...... but offensively he may be the worst division 1 player i've ever watched. All season he missed bunnies, open jumpers and air balled tons of three's. I hope he works hard in the offseason or we can switch him. Outside of that..... awesome season.

RJ King 3 years, 8 months ago

Oh please ... you're going to rag on a very poised freshman who most likely did everything asked of him in his first year? "Worst D-1 player you've ever watched?" Drama much???

Blake Phillips 3 years, 8 months ago

offensively. I commend his defense, but honestly, you cant deny for a single second that his offensive skills are atrocious. I said plainly "i hope he works hard in the offseason" - it's a reality. He was a liability for us because every team knew that he couldn't score. Look at his offensive stats before you judge my comments....

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

" I think his defense is okay......"

That's hardly commending.

Craig Carson 3 years, 8 months ago

his offensive skills arent terrible..he barely shot the ball all year..he played hesitant..Kevin Young offensive skills were terrible, Justin Wesleys offensive skills were terrible..Garrett has the looks more like he just needs some confidence....

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

"but offensively he may be the worst division 1 player I've ever watched"

You either don't watch CBB or maybe this is simply fan overreaction. There were plenty of players on BOTH teams who are worse on offense... they are the guys sitting further down the bench and rarely play except in garbage time.

This reminds me of a quote claiming De Sousa is the worst player in D1 basketball.

Blake Phillips 3 years, 8 months ago

This is Kansas basketball. Stats don't lie. He simply stinks on offense. i guarantee he wont start next year.

Tom Jones 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, no, even if Vick (which I don't expect) and Newman (which I do) leave, the team will still be loaded with five star talent. So guaranteeing he won't start isn't really going out on a limb...

But (assuming he sticks it out), I believe Garrett will be a very valuable upperclassman for KU. He'll get better on both ends. And he's a great teammate by all accounts.

Craig Carson 3 years, 8 months ago

exactly..noone says he will start, but to say he is the worst is an extreme over exaggeration..his shooting mechanics look fine, he just didnt play with a lot of rather him stay

Drew Doerfler 3 years, 8 months ago

i just didn't like Self's gameplan. force it in to Udoka repeatedly. I think this took our guards out of their free-flowing, 3 point shooting and driving offense and slowed it down and made it one dimensional. Dok just wasn't a good fit against Villanova offensively or defensively. He just can't guard a 3 point shooting center. The game is starting to pass over the true, big center. After watching our defense against Duke, i was optimistic, but our 3 point defense against Villanova was just plain terrible. They made shots, but we were also giving them wide open look after wide open look without any resistance whatsoever. Svi and Vick were basically non-factors the entire game. But overall, an amazing season! I never would have expected a final 4 out of this team! If Dok comes back, I think DeSousa is going to give him a run for his money for playing time alonside D. Lawson. Dok is just kind of limited on a lot of aspects of his game right now. We play a lot faster and more fluidly with Desousa. Best part of final four though was Dok getting to see his mom. Those sort of moments puts the games into perspective...RCJH!!!

Brian Leslie 3 years, 8 months ago

As Charles and Kenny said in their post-game wrap-up, Nova is similar to Golden State in that you have to pick your poison as they have lineups where every single person can shoot from the outside and drive it. I agree that Doke showed his limitations tonight, not just against Nova, but for where the NBA is. He is going to have to be an exceptional rebounder and shot blocker to make it in the NBA, because he would be abused on picks or straight-up man.defense.

Brad Watson 3 years, 8 months ago

I have said all year that Villanova was the best team with the best roster in America....they played like it tonight and nothing to feel bad about....They were just better than us... this year...period!...I t was going to take our best game to win....and we got distracted down there...the circus enviornment........we .thought after the Duke game.......that we were better than we were..... and we got beat...Great job on getting to the Final Four......I love basketball...and Villanova was very impressive good as I have seen anybody play this year.....FYI........VILLANOVA IS COMING TO LAWRENCE ON DECEMBER 15TH ...JAY WRIGHT IS COMING TO ALLEN FIELD we will have another shot at them then....something to look forward to.

RJ King 3 years, 8 months ago

agree up until "we thought after the Duke game that we were better than we were." It didn't seem either the fans or the players thought that. The Duke game obviously could have gone either way. The players most likely felt relief and joy at making the FF. I highly doubt any of them thought they were elevated to another level because of the Duke game. To me the team did not seem either over confident or lacking in confidence. Just ended up out-gunned.

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 8 months ago

It was a great season hurts to lose but the one thing i am most happy is that neither Duke or Kentucky will win hats off to this team ...countdown to number 15 starts now

Brian Shain 3 years, 8 months ago

The fact is Nova was just better. I agree they had some great looks but they were also hitting well guarded shots as well. They were HOT!! My only complaint about the game was I think once we got down and it was obvious they weren't going to let up I would have liked to see another shooter on the floor besides Garrett. Put Cunliffe in or Lightfoot in at least they can hit water if they fell out of a boat. They knew Garrett couldn't shoot and his man was playing off of him big time and he would just dribble around not wanting to shoot. Way to easy for Nova. At the end of the day you have to tip your cap to Nova. They've been the best all year and they showed tonight why.

James Donnell 3 years, 8 months ago

It was great getting to the Final Four. Awesome game against Duke. But what a letdown for the last game. We weren't even competitive. Have to credit Villanova--what a fantastic team. We could use them as a barometer for where we need to be. If you mixed all our guys with theirs, we probably only have two guys that would play a lot--Graham and Newman. A couple other guys would come off the bench. That is the difference in the talent level. As has been mentioned, a number of our guys are limited in one way or another, whether it is size, offensive skill, etc. so it is amazing we got this far. Despite the hangover feeling today, it was a great season.

Kent Richardson 3 years, 8 months ago

This NCAA season, and tourney, were both a, what the heck is going on, four month ride. We won a 14th straight league title with a flawed roster that perplexed coach Self just like the rest of us. The streak will be what is remembered 10 years from now.

Reality always has it's day and that's fine. Another year in a string of needing just one more really good starter to be complete. We won most of the games that could have gone either way and pulled off some unlikely comebacks. We got exposed several times and coach patched us together as well as he could but we were still bleeding internally. We never hit the point where we dominated entire games because we just weren't talented enough to do that.

The AA team, outside of Brunson and DeVonte are all freshman who are years away from being first line pros. No Ben Simmons in sight. The recruit rating system is at best a semi-reliable guessing game. Malik was a top ten rated player two years ago and we finally got to see what all the hype was about and he is scary good. I would say Malik is 100% gone from KU. Ouch.

We are excited about next year but who will stay and who will transfer? We see that transfers and red shirts take a whole eligible season to develop in Self's system and we don't know how well Dotson and Grimes will play. Silvio, Mitch, Garrett and, short leash, Cunliffe will all be better for sure. Udoka may stay or get drafted or play overseas. It was heart warming to see his Mom being reunited with her son.

I'm not sure where the college game will go next. The three point shot and one and done era have been around for long enough for us to know but the coaching is slow to catch up because you have to win immediately to turn a profit and keep your job.

DeVonte will be remembered until he gets his jersey retired. We will live and die as fans with the 2018-2019 Jayhawks from this day until next March. I've been a conscious fan since about 1960 when I followed the team via radio from a very small town an hour or so south of Lawrence. I'm locked in during the season and follow KU football when it starts. Who can explain why?

Thanks again to the LJW crew and fellow posters for keeping me entertained.

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 8 months ago

Great season, very strong finish bt this team. If we had started as strong as we finished it might have ended even better but hey, only one team wins it all and Nova looks unbeatable right now. I don't see how Michigan has a chance.

Craig Carson 3 years, 8 months ago

is it just me or is Villanova stating to turn into KU's nemesis? outside of the 2008 NCAA match up, has KU even beaten Nova in the last 20 years?..because it seems like Nova has won every match up?

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