San Antonio — Listening to Kansas basketball coach Bill Self call the team soft following a loss to Oklahoma State, Svi Mykhailiuk believes it was a "breaking point" for the team to play better.
"We started taking everything personally, like for example don't let your man catch easy and don't let your man get a rebound," Mykhailiuk said.
Viewed as underdog against Villanova in the Final Four on Saturday (7:49 p.m., TBS), Mykhailiuk said it's nothing new for the Jayhawks after being doubted throughout the season.
The Kansas basketball team held an open practice at the Alamodome on Friday, one day prior to their Final Four game against Villanova in San Antonio.
San Antonio — Hopeful for the opportunity to see his mother for the first time in six years at the Final Four this week, Kansas sophomore Udoka Azubuike is trying to contain his emotions.
Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder wrote on Twitter that Azubuike’s mom was approved for a visa, but coach Bill Self cautioned the school’s staff is still scrambling a little and there may be issues with her flights.
“She’s never seen me play at all,” Azubuike said. “She’s never seen me play basketball. I don’t know. It’s going to be an emotional moment for me. I don’t know how to handle it.”
It was a simple question posed to Udoka Azubuike on Tuesday: what did it mean to him to advance to the Final Four?
Azubuike quickly turned to some of the hardest parts of the season, including the Jayhawks' home losses, and said that's what made it more special.
"What we've been through right from the jump, it's not been easy," Azubuike said. "There's been a lot of humps, ups and downs, negatives and positives, all that stuff. But it really means a lot, man. This team never gave up."
Returning to Lawrence after helping the Jayhawks advance to the Final Four with an Elite Eight victory against Duke, Kansas freshman forward Silvio De Sousa thanked all of the fans for their support since he arrived during the middle of the season.
"When I was in high school, I had friends and I kind of felt lonely sometimes, most of the time," De Sousa said. "But ever since I got to Kansas, I feel like I have my family here."
As a bonus to making the Final Four, De Sousa plans to see his parents for the first time in about a year when they watch him play in San Antonio, helped by an NCAA program that helps pay the expenses for players' families.
In a game that included the biggest shot of his career, Kansas senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk broke down his game-tying 3-pointer against Duke in the Elite Eight, which forced overtime and helped the Jayhawks to their eventual victory.
A couple of days afterward, he believed it was the toughest game he played in his career, especially because he matched up with Marvin Bagley III.
"I think that's the best player in my college career I've played against," Mykhailiuk said.
Omaha, Neb. — After an 85-81 victory over Duke in the Elite Eight on Sunday, Malik Newman said it was hard to process his first trip to the Final Four.
"It still doesn't feel real, even to this point," said Newman, who scored a game-high 32 points. "I know we there. We're happy to be there. I'm excited to be there, I know the seniors is and the rest of the team and coaching staff ... tomorrow when I wake up, I think I'll feel totally different."
Newman played defense on Grayson Allen on Duke's final possession, watching Allen's shot bounce on the rim twice before slowly rolling out. He thought it gave the Jayhawks a confidence boost to force overtime.
"I just knew that I had to step up with my play for the last five minutes of the game because at the end of the day, it could've been our last five minutes."