Originally published March 22, 2008 at 05:57p.m., updated March 22, 2008 at 08:25p.m.
Final, KU wins, 75-56
Off to Detroit it is for the Kansas University men's basketball team, which showed up and simply took care of business against an overmatched, undersized UNLV team Saturday in Omaha, claiming a 75-56 victory.
The win lands the Jayhawks in their second straight Sweet 16, and it's the third trip to the NCAA Tournament's second weekend for KU in Bill Self's five years as head coach.
Sherron Collins again jump-started a sometimes-stagnant KU offense, scoring 10 points off the bench for KU, highlighted with an ankle-breaking, driving layup late in the game as the Jayhawks pulled away from the Rebels. UNLV could hardly muster a bucket in the second half after trailing by just five at the break.
UNLV's Wink Adams led all scorers with 25, but the Rebels struggled mightily to score from the outside, especially after sniper Joe Darger fouled out midway through the second half.
Mario Chalmers led the way for KU on offense with 17 points, while Russell Robinson scored 13 and applied sticky defense on the UNLV backcourt. Brandon Rush scored 12 for the Jayhawks before fouling out.
KU will play next Friday in Detroit's Ford Field - a facility which doubles as the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions - against the winner of tomorrow's game between No. 12 Villanova and No. 13 Siena.
For more on this story, including full postgame coverage, log back onto KUSports.com and read Sunday's Journal-World.
3:22, second half, KU leads 67-51
Wink Adams completed his three-point play after the timeout, giving him a game-high 21 points. Mario Chalmers canceled out that point by hitting one of two free throws after trying to dunk over Matt Shaw. Wink Adams then hit two more free throws after a Brandon Rush split pair, pulling UNLV to within 12 with 4:57 to play.
Mario Chalmers then hit two free throws with KU in the double bonus, and Sherron Collins then hit two inside off a Kendall Wallace miss, pushing KU ahead 65-49 with the game then in its final four minutes, all but shutting the door and sending KU to Detroit. Darrell Arthur added to the closing ceremonies, dropping in a spinning two after two Matt Shaw free throws.
7:33, second half, KU leads 60-46
Russell Robinson went to the line and hit both of his attempts, giving him seven points, to extend KU's lead to 48-41 with just under 12 minutes to play.
Sherron Collins then worked himself into space for a pull-up jumper, which he hit, to put KU ahead by nine again. But Wink Adams again drew contact, this time earning the fourth foul on Sasha Kaun. Adams made one of two, giving him 17 points on the evening.
Russell Robinson then cashed a three to make it an 11-point game after an offensive foul call was made against Darger, giving him four fouls on the day. Darger then fouled out at the 9:33 mark. Robinson made one of two bonus free throws to give KU a 12-point edge. Corey Bailey axed it back down to 11 by splitting a pair ot the line right after that. Sherron Collins made it 56-43 with yet another diving layup.
Matt Shaw hit one of two free thorws after drawing the third foul of the game on Mario Chalmers, and KU again one-upped a split pair, this time with Russell Robinson getting inside for two off the glass. Sherron Collins then broke some ankles and left his tongue wagging out of his mouth after faking out the UNLV defense on a drive to the lane for two more points. That forced UNLV into a timeout down by 16 points with 7:40 to go.
Wink Adams hit two on a drive andd drew contact at the 7:33 mark, sending the game to a full break with KU up 60-46.
11:58, second half, KU leads 46-41
Wink Adams hit two free throws out of the break, pulling UNLV to within seven points.
Sherron Collins, though, bolted to the hoop against a dwindling shot clock on KU's next possession, after KU had called a timeout with just seconds left before a violation. He dropped in two up near the iron to put KU back up by nine at 46-37.
Adams hit two more free throws after again drawing contact on the baseline. He then went right at it again following a Darrell Arthur miss inside, getting to the line for the third time in the half. He again spun both home, giving him a game-high 16 points and pulling UNLV to within five points.
Russell Robinson returned the favor, getting to the line after a hard drive leading into a full timeout.
14:28, second half, KU leads 44-35
Brandon Rush threw a lob for Darrell Arthur right at the onset of the second half, but Wink Adams came back with two of his own off the glass inside. Rush came right back with a three from the right wing, putting KU ahead by eight at 39-31.
Joe Darger and Rene Rougeau were then called for each of their third fouls, the second of which resulted in Darrell Arthur hitting one of two free throws to put KU up by nine.
Wink Adams then hit one of two charity tries after drawing the second foul of the game on Darnell Jackson. Russell Robinson came back to boost KU's lead to 10 points with a swooping layup off a Jackson screen.
Joe Darger came back with a three in the corner, and after Russell Robinson tried to respond with a trey Darrell Arthur was called for an over-the-back foul off the miss.
UNLV turned it over, though, and Sasha Kaun hit a spinning two over Darger.
Brandon Rush then missed an open corner three off a Wink Adams three miss, and Adams came back to draw contact on Brandon Rush going to the bucket, sending the game to a full break.
Halftime, KU leads 34-29
Wink Adams dropped in two inside after a pair of Darnell Jackson free throws, leading to a late Bill Self timeout with :51.1 showing before the break.
Mario Chalmers, out of the timeout, slashed inside and dropped in a floater, sending KU ahead by six at 34-28. Curtis Terry tried to answer with a deep three, but after it missed and a pair of UNLV offensive boards, Matt Shaw was sent to the line with three seconds left. He made one of two, sending KU to the locker room with a five-point advantage at 34-29.
Mario Chalmers led KU with nine points. Darnell Jackson scored eight, with Brandon Rush chipping in six.
1:23, first half, KU leads 30-26
Darnell Jackson made one of two in a bonus trip to the line out of the timeout, but Joe Darger sliced the six-point KU lead in half with a trifecta from the right wing for his second bucket of the game. Mario Chalmers tried to match it, but aired an attempt from straight on.
Curtis Terry got to the line in the double bonus after Russell Robinson was called for his second foul, hitting both to pull the Rebels to within one at 27-26.
Mario Chalmers came back with a three from the corner, giving him seven points on the night and forcing UNLV into atimeout with 1:23 to go in the half.
3:48, first half, KU leads 26-21
Rene Rougeau hit both of his free throws out of the timeout, and Mario Chalmers saw a three rim out on the other end, giving UNLV a chance to push further ahead. Darrell Arthur came up big, though, swatting away a follow-up attempt off a Matt Shaw three miss, sending the ball back with Russell Robinson. He found Cole Aldrich, who hit a short two for his first points of the game.
Matt Shaw hit a pair of free throws on the other end to push UNLV back ahead, 21-19. Russell Robinson put KU back on top on the next possession, driving to the bucket and dropping in two while drawing contact from Joe Darger. He hit the free throw to put KU ahead 22-21. Mario Chalmers then extended the lead to three with a layup inside after the teams swapped empty possessions.
Brandon Rush connected on his third mid-range jumper of the game to put the Jayhawks ahead by five going into a TV timeout at the 3:48 mark.
7:48, first half, game tied 17-17
Joe Darger cashed a long two for UNLV out of the TV break, and the momentum built a bit more for UNLV after forcing a tie-up moments later in the paint.
With the fresh possession, Rene Rougeau hit a mid-range jumper to pull the Rebels to within two at 13-11.
Brandon Rush ended the mini-run by UNLV with a long two. Wink Adams came back with his first points of the game, tipping in his own miss inside.
Wink Adams then scored after another KU turnover in transition, slashing to the rack and tying things up at 15-15. Rush came back with another mid-range two.
Adams then got to the line after drawing a foul on Rush, and hit both to tie it up again 17-17. UNLV then secured some momentum heading into a TV timeout at the 7:48 mark, with Rougeau drawing a foul on Cole Aldrich while going up for two.
11:42, first half, KU leads 13-7
Jackson hit one of two free throws, giving the Jayhawks a four-point lead at 7-3. Darrell Arthur pushed the lead to 9-3 with a steal in the backcourt turning into atwo-handed dunk in transition.
Curtis Terry ended UNLV's long offensive drought then with a three from well beyond the arc on the left wing. Darrell Arthur answered the call on the other end with two easy ones off a feed from Brandon Rush. Terry came back by hitting one of two free throws off a foul on the interior.
The Jayhawks continued to settle in offensively, this time with Sasha Kaun flushing home a lob feed from Sherron Collins. A foul on Kaun on the offensive end after that, though, sent the game into another full break.
15:13, first half, KU leads 6-3
Darnell Jackson skied to control the opening tip for KU, and the ball was stripped shortly after from Darrell Arthur on an entry pass to the post. Curtis Terry drilled a three for UNLV on the other end off a screen, giving the Rebels an early 3-0 lead.
Jackson was then off on a short turnaround jumper on the other end after KU kept the ball off a Mario Chalmers three miss. UNLV quickly turned it back over just past midcourt. Mario Chalmers missed a three on the other end, giving UNLV a chance to extend its early lead.
Joe Darger tried a three on the other end for the Rebels but was long, with Jackson taking down the board.
UNLV stole a KU inbounds pass on the other end, but Curtis Terry was called for a foul. On the other end, after two fouls were called away from the ball on the Rebels, Jackson hit a long two for KU to open the Jayhawks' scoring. He then hit another one after a Wink Adams miss, giving KU a 4-3 lead.
Mario Chlamers made it 6-3 off a steal in the backcourt led to a soaring, one-handed dunk.
Terry then missed a three, and Darnell Jackson drew a foul on the other end after boarding a Darrell Arthur miss, sending the game to a full break at the 15:13 mark.
One thing is for certain in the final NCAA Tournament game that will be played in Omaha Saturday - someone's making their second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
That's what's on the line for Kansas University and Nevada-Las Vegas in the Qwest Center. The Jayhawks (32-3) tonight take on the Rebels (27-7) with a trip to Detroit, Mich., for next weekend's regional action on the line.
KU got here with a relatively easy win over No. 16 Portland State Thursday, 85-61. The Jayhawks got out early and never looked back in that one, picking up where they had left off the previous weekend in ousting Texas for a Big 12 Tournament title in Kansas City. As for UNLV, it knocked off No. 9 Kent State, 71-58, in Thursday's second game, using stifling perimeter defense to hold the Flashes to 10 points in the first half.
The Kansas connections are plentiful between these two teams. UNLV is coached by former Kansas State head coach and point guard Lon Kruger. Most of his staff hails from the state of Kansas, too, including Steve Henson, whose final collegiate game was almost 20 years ago to the day against Kansas in the Elite Eight - a Jayhawk win on the road to the 1988 national title.
KU will be wearing its home whites, with UNLV in its road reds.