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Kansas defeats Creighton, 79-72

  • 1:40 p.m., March 19, 2022
  • Dickies Arena - Fort Worth, Texas,

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Moving On: Top-seeded Kansas holds off undermanned Creighton to return to Sweet 16

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) roars in front of the Creighton bench during a run by the Jayhawks in the second half on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 79-72 win over the Bluejays.

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) roars in front of the Creighton bench during a run by the Jayhawks in the second half on Saturday, March 19, 2022 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. The Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 79-72 win over the Bluejays.

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Fort Worth, Texas — Creighton coach Greg McDermott called it a chess match because of the way his team defended. Kansas coach Bill Self said winning NCAA Tournament games is never something for which one should apologize.

After 38 minutes of back-and-forth basketball that featured plenty of high moments and low moments for both sides, it was top-seeded Kansas that made the final successful move to push the Jayhawks into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018.

“I’m a little relieved, but I’m also very happy,” Self said after Saturday’s 79-72 victory over No. 9 Creighton at Dickies Arena. “You have to win games when it’s kind of ugly, and I don’t know that we could’ve won this game two months ago. I’m proud of our guys.”

The Jayhawks (30-6) led for 31:14 of Saturday’s slugfest, but only the final minute truly mattered. For one, that was the time when Kansas made the biggest plays of the game while watching the Bluejays (23-12) come up short. For two, every time the Jayhawks nudged their way to a five- or six-point lead, it seemed as if Creighton had an immediate answer. That kept Kansas from getting truly comfortable until the final horn.

“They were battling hard the whole game,” KU senior Ochai Agbaji said of the Bluejays. “Credit to them. But there were just those possessions that we knew we had to get, even late in the stretch, whether it was a rebound or executing a play, just to break away.”

Agbaji made one of them. Senior big man David McCormack made the other. And the Jayhawks, who were led by a 20-point performance by Remy Martin — the most he has scored as a Jayhawk — salted the game away at the free throw line with four straight makes in the final 31 seconds.

The Agbaji play came at the end of a long day of shooting the ball. The first-team All-American made just one of his first eight shots and finished 5-for-14 on the day. But the one that mattered most was a no-doubter.

Leading by one (73-72) with a minute to play, Agbaji scooped up a pass intended for Creighton senior Alex O’Connell, who got just one hand on the ball that was thrown behind him.

From there, Agbaji won the sprint to the other end and hammered a vicious dunk with his left hand to put Kansas ahead 75-72.

“I think we caught a break there,” Agbaji said.

O’Connell called the mishap “unfortunate,” and said that the Bluejays’ response was simple.

“When that happened, it was it was just, ‘What's next? What are we going to run next,’” O’Connell said after the loss.

Creighton called timeout with 49.4 seconds to play and had enough time to fire up a game-tying 3-pointer — they made 12 of 28 from downtown on the day — or look for something easy inside.

McDermott’s club chose the latter and freshman point guard Trey Alexander got to the rim on the right side of the lane but paused when McCormack slid over to contest his shot. McCormack, who was limited to 25 minutes because of Creighton’s need to play small, rejected Alexander’s shot attempt with 34 seconds remaining and Martin went to the free throw line.

“That was a play that, it didn’t ice the game, but that basically put it out of reach right there,” Self said of McCormack’s block.

That Martin was a part of the free throw brigade that put Saturday’s second-round win away was fitting given his performance in the first half.

For the second game in a row, the Arizona State transfer who has been on fire this postseason checked into the game midway through the first half and immediately put his stamp all over it.

Kansas trailed when he checked in with 14:13 to play in the first half but went ahead just 29 seconds later. Martin hit two 3-pointers in that stretch, but more than the scoring, it was the energy and pace he brought to the Kansas lineup that had the biggest impact.

“I mean, he was the player of the game, you know, with his energy,” said Wilson after scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in 32 minutes Saturday. “For him to step up like this is huge. He makes our team go farther than what we could without him.”

Martin subbed in for starting point guard Dajuan Harris, who was at the center of McDermott’s defensive game plan and actually got the same treatment initially. The Bluejays played way off of both Harris and Martin, almost daring them to shoot in hopes of clogging the lane and making it harder for KU to find driving and passing lanes in the paint.

The strategy worked for a while and KU’s leading scorers — Agbaji and Christian Braun — both had trouble finding their offensive flow in the first half. But Martin eventually made McDermott pay, finishing with 14 points in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor.

“You don't expect point guards to do that,” Self said. “But that kept us in the game. And then second half we kind of spread the wealth a little bit.”

Said McDermott of what he called an “unconventional” approach to playing defense: “We had to come up with something. I had decided before the game that we were going to stick with it temporarily when Martin came in. Obviously, a mistake on my part, in hindsight.”

Kansas led 39-38 at the half, despite Creighton hitting 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Bluejays were just 4-of-17 from 2-point range in the first half and finished the game shooting 35.6% overall, including 9-of-31 from 2-point range for 29% inside the arc.

“We didn't defend great; don't get me wrong,” Self said. “They still got over 70 (points). But when the offense was bad, we defended and we did some toughness things, especially late-game possessions, which I thought was very positive.”

KU had four players score in double figures on Saturday. Martin and Wilson were joined by Agbaji, who hit for 15 points and Christian Braun, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes.

Bigger than any of those individual outings, though, was the fact that Kansas won this game as a group by making things much harder for Creighton in the second half and by making winning plays when the outcome was hanging in the balance.

“We've won some games in the NCAA tournament that were a lot like this,” Self said. “And we've also lost some games that were a lot like this. So, we'll take it.”

Next up, KU will face fourth-seeded Providence (27-5) on Friday at United Center in Chicago. The Friars rolled past No. 12 Richmond on Saturday evening.

Friday's clash will mark KU's 32nd appearance in the Sweet 16 and the winner of that game will advance to the Elite Eight, on Sunday, March 27, when a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans will be on the line.

Comments

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Phew Survive and Advance!

It's a win, hats off to Creighton. Tough team. Who knows what happens if that 7 footer played. Not sure we beat them.

Barry Weiss 3 months, 2 weeks ago

wow! to beat a team hitting 12 3's at a 42% clip usually means a loss! Great team play. Remy was outstanding leading us in scoring for the second straight game. 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists is what you need from the point! Somewhere Rodney is upset about some obscure defensive assignment Remy probably missed in the second quarter...who knows, who cares?? Rock Chalk, on to the sweet sixteen!!! Celebrate tonight Jayhawk Nation!!

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Barry I am not going to post about Remy's defense, unless someone brings its up. This was a hard fought win.

So, Since you bring it up, yes Remy had a "few" stupid defensive plays. My buddy said to be fair to the team, I should break down Remy's dumb plays into 2 different buckets. Things he does by/to himself (A), and things that he causes his other teammates to absorb because of the way he plays. Like having or causing them to foul, a TO, a missed easy rebound, to be honest the list of what he causes when he screws up is surprisingly long. This happens to all players, but you brought up Remy.

Remember Barry, you wanted to know If I was paying attention about obscure (actual) defense and missed things by Remy. Yup. I was.

SO for just you Barry here is the expanded (NEW) list -

  • Bucket A -- there were 4
  • Bucket B -- 2 fouls, 2 missed rebounds, and a couple of frantic close outs to 3 point shooters who made the shot, thus dragging the player out of position.

I am not going to break those out, I want to celebrate advancing.

It is a win that puts us into the Sweet 16.

For the rest the tournament, which included this game, if anyone wants to bring it up, I will share it. Otherwise I would like to celebrate.

I think I made my point. Let's just keep winning, and yes Remy is helping us do that.

Yeah I could ingnore you Barry, but if I do how will you ever learn?

Barry Weiss 3 months, 2 weeks ago

lol!!! checkmate! "missed rebounds"...oh wow Rodney, you are digging deep now. Can you give us the "missed rebounds" for all our starters? we really want this detail Rodney! not just on Remy, we want you to tear apart all of the faults of all of our starters....naw...forget it.

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Barry if you need any help, and it sounds like you do, all you have to do is ask. I am glad to help you back to reality.

Bill Kiekel 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Great win against a very tough team Really proud of the KU effort. Remy is fearless and certainly not shy about shooting, it was a day when we needed every one of his made shots !

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Or fuming that they showed the victory totals without the coveted loss totals.

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

A work in progress. Counting most wins is not real if it takes you 150+ more games to do it!

Keith Gellar 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I will take the win but just surprised we couldn't put an undermanned Creighton away even with the sub par officiating.

WTF is up with OA? I thought he was the play maker but he was MIA. Credit Remy, but relying so much on Remy isn't smart. He reminds be of Manu Ginobali. Unpredictable and always brings energy, but can easily get out of control. Remember, ginobali lost big games as much as he helped win them.

Daniel Kennamore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Hate to agree, but I do.

A high school coach could've told you a team that just lost their center and 2nd leading scorer was going to rely on outside shooting but Self refused to adjust. He even kept Mac in well passed when it was obvious he was incapable of even putting a hand in the face of an outside shooter.

Self's stubbornness almost caused yet another early March face-plant today.

Survive and advance though. I think we match up better against Richmond or Providence than this game so hopefully we have an easier time of it.

Bryce Landon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The reasons we had so much trouble putting them away is because they played like a team with nothing to lose and because Bill Self got outcoached most of the game by Greg McDermott.

Oh, and I'm sure Creighton drew inspiration from North Carolina's upset of Baylor in the same building earlier in the afternoon.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

19-20 from the FT line is huge, and the only miss was rebounded by Jalen for the last 2.

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree 100%

JW's play was great, loved that heads rebound.

Lee Sears 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Remy has been a catalyst in both games of the NCAA tournament. He is playing with no fear, and I feel like that is what is holding us back from being more dominant.

Steve Quatrocky 3 months, 2 weeks ago

They hit a lot of threes, that's usually the storyline for our exit so kudos for staying tough, playing Bill's signature tough D and Rebounding, it ain't pretty but we just survived and advanced to the Sweet 16 and now have the most wins (still tied with KY) in NCAA Basketball.

That's what Bill means by you have to win at least one ugly game to make a run in the tourney and IMHO the refs helped keep it close the second half, once KU started to take a lead, it seems like Creighton always got a extra an 1 on their baskets. Remember, if Creighton had their 7 footer, they wouldn't have taken and made so many 3s. Och needs to put up a bunch of shots tonight and tomorrow, and the odds are he'll bounce back and be on fire next game, he still contributed lots more than just his points but those first half jumpers looked really tight, not confident. Rock Chalk on to Chicago!

Daniel Kennamore 3 months, 2 weeks ago

We gave up 72 points to the 125th offense on kenpom. In no way, shape or form is that good defense.

We actually played just fine offensively, I thought, other than Ochai needs to get out of his funk. Defense (or lack there of) nearly cost us the game.

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree Daniel

I could say something here. But I did above.

We won, it was not pretty, but if you watched North Carolina vs. Baylor that 2nd half was brutal defense.

Chad Smith 3 months, 2 weeks ago

honestly, the basketball gods gave Creighton everything they needed to make up for not having their Big. Creighton came into the game ranking 330th in the NCAA in 3 point shooting and made 12 3's. all the phantom foul calls that let Creighton keep contact with KU as KU was pulling away. bad games by och and McCormack and KU still won. survive and advance! RCJH

Brett McCabe 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Rodney, I am unsure why you have picked this hill to die on.

Every great achievement in sports has a counterpoint, except Tom Brady’s career.

Carew and Gwynn were great hitters, with little power. Wilt was the greatest player ever, but couldn’t make a free throw. Gale was the most dynamic runner ever, but blew out his knees.

We are tied for the most wins in the history of college bball. And if you haven’t seen the great graphic tweeted by Jesse, then you don’t know that we have already been the champions of this category before.

It’s like losing a fairly administered election. Sometimes you just need to concede with class. We are tied for the most wins. Why not root for us having the most? Or you can join Bryce in Crazy Town where he hates KU football, loves KU bball, loves Iowa football, hates Iowa bball and believes that Hillary ran a pizza shop with ill intent. Frankly, you are starting to sound more like that than a reasonable human being.

And BTW, Remy saved our butts today. We lose without him. When the other team drops back into the cheerleading line when your point guard has the ball….that’s when you thank goodness you have an option who can make a shot.

Before the season, if someone said that Remy and JW would be almost solely responsible for a tourney win, no one would have argued. Guess what? That happened. And we tied UK for MOST WINS IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL HISTORY.

RCJHK!

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Brett I am skipping this, sorry it looked like you worked really hard on it, but you are just not worth the effort.

Please by all means stay in the Most Wins camp. If that is all that happens out the logical, rational explanation I am talking about then I count that as a win for me.

I refuse to join any club that would have you as a member. -- Groucho with a slight edit

Bob Zielinski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Will you two please take the long weekend getaway to Brokeback Mountain, get this taken care of and off of the messages boards. Please.

Brianna Zaleski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Did anybody else catch that graphic, heading into a TV timeout, where they had pictures of OA, CB, and Remy’s body, with some random dude’s head photoshopped on to it? What was up with that? It was the oddest looking thing ever.

Dan Leftwich 3 months, 2 weeks ago

That was one of those Round of 32 games where the team's toughness and composure had to come to the front. All those close games in the Big 12 got them through this one. Creighton's 3 point success in the first half was not Coach Self being "stubborn." At his first time out interview he said the plan was to take away the 3 point line and they didn't do a very good job of it. That said, David was helping way too long off the ball screens. I doubt that was by design either. His mobility has never been great, and being hobbled makes it worse. But the Bluejays reverted to the mean a little bit in the second half and Dave came up big on defense in the last minute. So, kudos to him for not getting down from being pulled repeatedly. He's got a lot of heart and I'll take that when the going gets rough.

Remy was hustling on defense, harassing Alexander and even the bigs on the switch, but he can be exposed at times. Still, he is so fearless and explosive on offense that this team cannot reach that next gear without him. Coach McDermott gave Remy some props for being "night and day" a different defensive player than he was at Arizona State. I agree, and his mistakes are mostly from gambling a little too much. He seems to be learning and that's what you want to see.

I am optimistic about this team's chances now that they are past the 32 bounce out hurdle. They are alive and well. Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU!

Rodney Crain 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I really like your Remy description as "exposed". Very nice turn of a phrase. Gentle but factual.

I agree with you if he is going to pour in 20 when we are struggling, Take the good with the exposed.

I got us making the great 8. Anything can happen, I would love to see this group make the FF4!

We are in a win by any means tournament! Win and advance is all that matters.

Tony Bandle 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Providence looks like a team that is KU Kryptonite - big mobile three point shooting power forward who will be a match up nightmare, a big athletic center the kind that gives David fits, quick guards who can shoot and pass, a full rotation not compromised by injury or foul trouble. and a team used to physical "Big East" play. I'm not predicting a KU defeat...but I wouldn't be shocked!.

2] I see Bill's three point defense was working great when one of the worst shooting teams in Division One almost set a Guinness Book of Records mark for made treys.

3] Remi saved the game in the first half and almost gave it away in the second!!!

4] Not a bad season so far...Big 12 Title, Big 12 Tourney Title, Top Eight ranking all season, #1 Seed in the Midwest, 30 victories and counting, coaching up a First Team All-American and a NBA Lottery pick, Sweet Sixteen, catching UK in total victories [not that a give a $*@! about that .I'd rather catch up in National Championships].

5] My nomination for MVP would be whoever woke up Ochai at half time and reminded him we had a basketball to win!!!

6] Just think of it....by this time tomorrow, 52 teams will have been eliminated and sent home. BRUTAL!!!

7] I haven't read any of the previous posts, so my apologies for any repetition of commentary. However, if you agree with me, good job and if you don't, that's OK too!

Bryce Landon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The ingredients in a KU NCAA Tournament loss are the opposing team going bananas from 3, and one player having the game of his life against us. This game had both those factors; a Creighton team that shot 30% from 3 in the regular season hit 12 of them against us, and Arthur Keruma went off on us. When we fell behind 13-7, I started to think, "Oh no, I've seen this movie one time too many." But thank God for Remy Martin! He came through when our stars didn't have their best stuff and single-handedly kept us alive in the the first half! In the second half, our guys still didn't have their best stuff, but came through with big plays at just the right time! We were outplayed and outcoached much of the game, but thankfully, we weren't outscored.

It's nice to be in the Sweet 16, but let's not act like we accomplished anything by getting there. At Kansas, making the Sweet 16 is the bare minimum expectation for NCAA Tournament performance in any season. Now that we're in the Sweet 16, let's make the most of it and get to the Final Four.

RCJH!

Joe Ross 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The rise of Remy Martin in recent days has been impressive and even necessary for this Kansas basketball team who has needed a catalyst to spark its great potential. You see the impact of his presence as soon as he enters the game. Martin, who until recent days has warranted every bit of doubt of criticism of Kansas fans, has become the antidote for the kind of tightness teams can play with this time a year. I spent some time thinking about whether I knew of any Jayhawk ever playing more loosely in March, and I can't think of one. The beginning of the season has begun four months late for Remy and he's coming out fresh. Guns blazing. Absent conscience. Full of confidence.

"He doesn't need to score much to be big in the game". I hate and disagree with this statement whole-heartedly. It's a lie, and every time I hear it it's like nails on a chalkboard. You need to be solid at all five positions with the ability to score the basketball. Otherwise teams can isolate the player who can't score and provide help defense everywhere else. McDermott understands this, which showed in his game plan defensively. Unfortunately for him--especially if he was counting on Remy not having a repeat performance of a good game offensively--the guard provided critical points for Kansas. Look. The take-home message is that you should NEVER buy the lie that scoring out of any position isn't important. If there are ever instances where this is true, the number of those cases are FAR less common than the number of times the statement is actually made. Besides, when you conceive of yourself as being a facilitator only, then when your "scorer" is double teamed or has a bad game, it's hard to switch your mindset and become the scorer yourself. The fact that Remy has accomplished this stands out for its rarity.

Steve Zimmerman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Reminds me of Graham. A happy go lucky PG, just having fun on the court, always playing with big smile.

John Swift 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Remy is the reason we are still in the Tournament.

greg robinson 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I love Remy’s resurrection from the Big 12 tournament to now. Looser in the NCAA tournament? Maybe Keith Langford or at least his Uncle with the clocks.

Bryce Landon 3 months, 2 weeks ago

That would be Wayne Selden with the crazy uncle with the giant clocks.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Tony - Good observation on #5. After starting 1-8, he finished 4-6.

Part of the challenge for our staff going in was having almost no scouting report for the game. Coach talked once (before halftime?) about having some idea of how the planned to defend the 3, but just not closing out well enough on the right shooters. They corrected it at halftime. Good coaching.

Coach was also criticized for Remy not being this explosive to start the year. It seems to me that was as much Remy as anything. It seems to me he was working extra hard at just fitting in, and really not asserting himself as much as he could. It’s nice to have Coach McDermott recognize how much he’s improved this year.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Creighton is a pretty young team. They should be really good in the future.

Steve Zimmerman 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It's nice to be in the Sweet 16, but let's not act like we accomplished anything by getting there.

That would be ideal, Bryce. But reality is, this team is not a team that can win with convincing plays all season long. When you look at this season from November: DMac plays with sore foot (watch earlier season's tapes of him - you'll see what I mean), Remy's drama (coach's way, Remy's way, banged knee), JWil's making bad choice, Bobby's abs injury - and realize where we are now......... man, I never thought we survived this far.

Having Remy back, after being absent that long - can anyone guarantee how effective he would be? It's insane. And I agree with Ross wholeheartedly on his view regarding //"He doesn't need to score much to be big in the game"//. Been complaining all season. Look at what happens to Harris, Mitch, or DMac being left alone near the top of the key,. We're lucky - very lucky that Remy can still shake & bake. With coach BS' offense alone - there's no way we could win against Creighton. He had to sometimes let Remy doing Remy's things. And it worked.

Let's just hope we tighten the 3s defense, keep the rebounding edge, and make every shot count! ROCK CHALK!

Brad Watson 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Great job again....Creighton played" lights out" and you guys were still able to prevail...get some rest...you are going to need it ....remember...blinders on ...total focus.....shoot a lot of free throws....study your opponent well..study the Villanova tapes....individual match ups...know what they like and want to do and take it away...Good luck!!!

Dirk Medema 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Keith - Manu Ginobali won at least 5 championships. Not sure about his losses, but sure that everyone has some. As long as the pluses are greater than the minuses, and it seems to be moving more and more in that direction for direction, we should all be happy.

Part of the strength of this team is the multiple weapons. Ochai is an AA and will get lots of extra attention because of it. I can see the games starting with him struggling as opposing D’s focus on him. As long as the others step up, even without triple DDs, the opposing D’s will have to become more balanced and Ochai will return to the norm which is great.

Joe is right about “scoring much” though “much” is not defined. DaJuan, JCL, Joe, or whomever don’t need to score in double figures, or necessarily even close. They do need to take and make wide open shots so that the others can’t be doubled. Hmmm, goes back to the +/-; they do need to score enough vs. do not need to score much.

Bj Cassady 3 months, 2 weeks ago

First of all Kudos to the Bluejays. They laid it on the line, played their hearts out. I wonder what is going on with OA. He has had a decent game now and then but in the past 6 or so he has been overall absent. Love JWil's play, he gets down and dirty. DMac does his best. CB can be counted on for a block or two every game and scoring in double digits and hitting the boards hard. I like this team.

Mallory Briggans 3 months, 1 week ago

Remy wasnt resurrected ........hes the same Remy . Self just didnt play him .

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