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Kansas defeats Providence, 66-61

  • 6:29 p.m., March 25, 2022
  • United Center, Chicago, IL

Friday, March 25, 2022

Survive & Advance: Top-seeded Kansas reaches Elite Eight with grind-it-out, 66-61 win over Providence

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) pumps his fist as the Jayhawks take control late in the second half against Providence on Friday, March 25, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. The Jayhawks defeated the Friars, 66-61.

Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) pumps his fist as the Jayhawks take control late in the second half against Providence on Friday, March 25, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. The Jayhawks defeated the Friars, 66-61.

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Chicago — Friday night, with its season on the line and the three other No. 1 seeds out of the NCAA Tournament already, top-seeded Kansas played a game that featured as many ugly moments as pretty and as many heart-stopping plays as easy ones.

The result was a 66-61 win over fourth-seeded Providence at United Center that sent the Jayhawks (31-6) to the Elite Eight for the eighth time under head coach Bill Self and the first time since 2018.

They’ll play Miami on Sunday for a chance to punch their ticket to the Final Four in New Orleans.

“We’re ecstatic that we’re here,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the win.

Friday’s victory, in so many ways, resembled the way in which the Jayhawks won their second-round game over a tough Creighton team.

Remy Martin went nuts. Jalen Wilson got on the glass. The KU defense played with incredible passion. And Kansas won its eighth game in a row because of a rare combination of beauty and toughness that even Gaston from Beauty and the Beast would blush at.

None of it bothered Kansas a bit.

“If we win like that every game, I’m not really tripping,” said Wilson, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes. “Games will get like that. And like Coach said, if our offense is bad, we need to make them play worse than us.”

Kansas did that to perfection in the game’s first 20 minutes. The Jayhawks shot just 35% from the floor in the first half but still held a nine-point halftime lead because they limited Providence to 20% shooting.

Some of Providence’s offensive issues came from missing open looks. But the way Kansas pressured the ball and contested everything made those tough to come by.

The Friars (27-6) missed their first 11 3-pointers — some of them by miles — before finally hitting one with 1:50 to play in the half. And they finished the game just 4-of-23 from behind the arc.

“I think the first half was about as well as we could guard,” Self said after the victory. “We played really well defensively and rebounding the ball the first half and didn’t have as much to show for it, considering Providence couldn’t make a shot. Of course, we couldn’t really either.”

Martin did over and over again, on his way to a game-high 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting.

The first few minutes of Friday’s battle featured both teams playing like first-graders running in an open field with blindfolds on and no instructions on where to go.

Up and down they went, jacking up missed shot after missed shot and hustling after every pass, miss and loose ball. Most of KU’s misses in that stretch came in the paint while the Friars missed from anywhere and everywhere else.

Tied at 4 at the first media timeout, Self responded by plugging Martin and Mitch Lightfoot into the lineup for Dajuan Harris Jr. and David McCormack. The Jayhawks immediately took off.

Martin scored seven straight points for the Jayhawks to give the top seed a bit of a cushion. And he just kept going from there, scoring 11 of the next 13 points for Kansas to give the Jayhawks a 17-8 lead.

“This is the second game in a row where he’s come in in the first half and just completely taken over,” Wilson said of Martin. “(He’s) playing with so much confidence. We love it. We love him playing like that. We need him playing like that. He's been able to save us out of situations when we need a shot late in the clock. He's able to create his own shot. That’s something not a lot of guys can do, especially at his speed. So, we’re just loving his confidence.”

After Martin calmed the waters for Kansas, Wilson then took his turn, scoring seven straight points to push the Jayhawks’ lead to 24-12.

KU led by as many as 13 with 14:53 to play in the game after a no-look slip pass from Martin to Lightfoot led to a two-handed dunk.

That was the last time things looked easy for Kansas. Providence responded with a 21-8 run to tie the game at 44 with 7:17 to play and actually took a 48-47 lead on a layup by Noah Horchler (10 points and eight rebounds on 4-of-14 shooting) with 5:49 to play.

Kansas immediately responded with five straight points from Wilson and Christian Braun and Providence never led again.

Wilson played a big role in responding every time Providence made things tight or took the lead.

His drive to the rim 18 seconds after Providence tied the game put KU back up 46-44. And his three-point play after Horchler’s layin put the Friars ahead was a mixture of power, passion and putting the team on his back.

“I saw how excited they were getting, they started to talk a little bit; I’m so confident in me and my team that I know that that fuels us just as much,” Wilson said. “Plus, we never get rattled. Like I said, we've seen every single type of game and situation. I’m just confident whatever comes our way.”

KU’s run grew to 7-0 on the possession that followed Braun’s drive, when Wilson jumped to deflect a pass by Providence guard Al Durham (21 points, seven rebounds in 39 minutes) and raced the other way looking for more. His wild shot on the right side missed long, but David McCormack was there to put it back to give Kansas a 54-48 lead.

Asked after the game if the wild miss was a pass or a shot, Wilson grinned and answered quickly: “Pass.”

“Yeah. Right,” Self said.

After the game, Self marveled about how many individual plays were made by different players to help Kansas survive and move on to Sunday.

Wilson and Martin made plenty of them. But senior All-American Ochai Agbaji (five points on 2-of-8 shooting) and Braun (six points and 10 rebounds) teamed up for another that may have been the knockout blow. With Kansas leading by five and the clock winding under four minutes to play, Braun threw a perfectly placed pinpoint lob to Agbaji, who back-cut Providence’s Justin Minaya and wound up dunking over him on the play.

Kansas led 57-50 and the Friars never got closer than four the rest of the way.

“Toughest team will always win,” Wilson said. “I try to be the toughest guy on the court I can be, and also the toughest team on the court. (If) we play with that mindset and a chip on our shoulder, we can get through any situation. Like tonight.”

Next up, KU will face No. 10 seed Miami at 1:20 p.m. Sunday on CBS. The Hurricanes beat No. 11 seed Iowa State 70-56 on Friday.

Here's a look at our coverage from the Windy City so far:

• Survive & Advance: Top-seeded Kansas reaches Elite Eight with grind-it-out, 66-61 over Providence

• Ochai Agbaji’s lob dunk gives Kansas the lift it needs to hold off Providence

• The KU Sports Ratings following Sweet 16 win over Providence

• Photo gallery: Kansas vs. Providence

• Game Day Breakdown: Kansas vs. Providence

• Sweet 16 Notebook: Jayhawks, Friars mirror each other

• Photo gallery from Thursday's open practices

• Providence eager to face college basketball blue blood

• Bill Self on leaving Illinois: 'It's worked out well for us'

• Basketball Friends breaks down what's at stake for KU in Chicago

• Experienced transfers lead Providence to Sweet 16

• Former Kansas guard Charlie Moore’s long basketball journey takes him back to Chicago

• Top-seeded Kansas arrives in Chicago

Comments

Barry Weiss 6 months ago

wow, that was an ugly win, but that is what we do! I feel like we are on the verge of a break out shooting night, so winning on off nights is great! Remy carries us for the third straight NCAA game. 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists. I know Ochai will find his grove soon. His defense was stellar tonight!

Daniel Kennamore 6 months ago

Thought for sure when Providence took the lead we were looking at another season of falling short...but how but the GUTS of these kids to respond like that?

Remy is clearly MVP of our entire post-season (including Big 12 tournament).

If we can just get Ochai going...

Tony Bandle 6 months ago

RANDOM THOUGHTS:

1] THE GOOD - we won, Remi Martin, Jalen Wilson, the slam for a key bucket by Ochai, the bushel full of KU blocks, the location of the PROVIDENCE logo on the cheerleaders uniforms.

2] THE BAD - The offense in general, David's hands, the favoritism shown by the announcers toward Providence, Braun's shooting woes, Remi's first free throw shot in general.

3] THE UGLY -The Providence coach's scalp, the Friar Mascot, the refs [for both sides], the incredible amount of commercials interrupting the game about every 30 seconds or so!!!!

Lonnie Ross Dillon 6 months ago

The commercial breaks were nor more than normal, but the TV timeouts are longer than normal during the tourney (by contract). This benefits teams with shorter benches. Remy and Mitch played extra minutes, and I saw JCL in briefly, so that works in our favor.

Rodney Crain 6 months ago

Thanks Tony, now I have that damn three note whistle from that fricking spaghetti western in my head.

We typically lose these games. If ugly means a win, that's ok. There are no style points, no matter bad it looks. And it was bad.

It helps if you keep reminding yourself we are tuning in to watch commercials not a game. Then it all makes sense.

RJ King 6 months ago

1) no comment

2) I work with the TBS crew. Kevin Harlan is a KU grad. He's a great guy. He sounded very neutral to me, even though his heart was with Kansas. Reggie Miller is aloof and doesn't really like anyone. Dan Bonner played at Virginia and perhaps has East Coast favoritism, but he commented less than the others.

3) The coach obviously suffers from alopecia areata - an autoimmune disease. Call it what you want, but a little compassion never hurt anyone.

Ryan Mullen 6 months ago

Not bringing in Remy until almost the 15 mark of the second half was a huge mistake. Our only consistent offensive leader and he isn’t starting the second half? Most of his points in the second half came from free throws. His shooting was off. I would be pissed if I was Remy. I’m sure that got in his head. Guy is trying to make a living at the next level and should have almost 40 minutes a game to show off his skill set. That is on Self.

James Donnell 6 months ago

Remy is a stud, as is Wilson. Those guys have been carrying us. But we HAVE to get Ochai and Braun going to keep advancing.

David Robinett 6 months ago

We need Ochai. This can’t last forever…

Rodney Crain 6 months ago

At least OA. CB would be nice.

JW has been huge the last 2 games.

Defense has been saving us.

Dan Leftwich 6 months ago

Ochai is rushing his jump shots on the break because teams are face guarding him in the half court offense and taking away the back door and lob plays for him (except that spectacular call when they went zone). It also doesn't help Ochai when we have no threat from the 5. The driving lanes off motion are not really open for Ochai a lot, but he could definitely be more aggressive going to the basket anyway. He has been passing out of the weave and dribble hand off too quickly. An assassin on the court puts pressure on the officials to call fouls on drives. Getting to the line allows him to see the ball going in the basket. That is what he needs to do to get his outside shot game going. I think he will. Onward.

Mallory Briggans 6 months ago

WTF !!! OA and CB ...............MIA

Doug Roberts 6 months ago

Survive and advance. Unpopular opinion? Lightfoot should be getting McCormick's minutes. Besides free throws McCormick is a liability out there. Lightfoot plays solid defense, blocks shots, and is more reliable posting up. Again, I don't care if it's an unpopular opinion. David seems to be a great kid, but in my observation Lightfoot is more effective.

Doug Roberts 6 months ago

Also, could you pick a WORSE picture of Braun??? Did you not have one of him picking his nose?!

Lee Short 6 months ago

Just think, if Remy would have been healthy all season, he would have been KU's second Bob Couzy award winner. He also would have been Big 12 POY and first-team MCAAM All-American. Barry, the comments you made previously on another article re the comparison to Frank and Devonte were in the context of if he had been HEALTHY all season. Much like the reference made in the announcers tonight and in the CBS Sports page write-up.

Remy scored 22 pts a game in Pac 12 play last year. Two-time all Pac 12 first team. Alas, the accolades that would have come to him were not meant to be due to not being 100% for so long this season. Most of us can now see why, however, he was picked to be the pre-season Big 12 POY.

It was, however, another game where DMac was a negative for the game, Braun and Agbaji underperformed. But due to Remi, we would have lost again.

Remy did all this tonight of less than 2/3rds (27 minutes) of the average playing time of CA, CB and JW.

Just think if he would have played the same number of minutes and had a typical FT shooting %.

We could optimize Remy's production by starting him in both halves. It would allow his minutes to be spread should he have endurance challenges. His consistency, at this point, is such that he's earned it. He can be the spark from the get-go. We might need to optimize his offensive scoring as the games go along.

Thank goodness, due to Remy, we built up a 9-point lead at the half.

Barry Weiss 6 months ago

i'm a bit torn on changing the lineup. I love Harris, but he is hurting us some on offense and Remy can create space and go down hill to open up shots for our other starters much better. I don't know, its a tough call.

Thomas Harrison 6 months ago

Time for Coleman-Lands to Play a lot more! Ag,Harris,Braun, and McCormack are not scoring ! Wilson and Martin need help!!!

Bryce Landon 6 months ago

These guys showed some serious toughness tonight. When Providence from down 13 to take the lead, I was beginning to think, "Oh good grief, not this again." I've seen this movie several times over the last few years. But instead of crumbling, the Jayhawks put on their big boy pants, retook control, and did just enough good things down the stretch to keep the season alive. The toughness that was missing nearly all of last season and much of this season was present tonight in a big way. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, and let's find a way to get to New Orleans on Sunday!

Dirk Medema 6 months ago

Providence is a good defensive team.

All the blocks in the first half were beautiful.

Remy isn’t pissed about anything, except maybe his FTs.

Jalen scored 16, but took that many shots to do it and twice as many as anybody not named Remy.

When the players were asked about Ochai, they knew he would be the emphasis of the D, but also commented on the others. You can’t stop all of them.

One of David’s best offensive plays was when he stood out by the arc, and opened the middle for the others to drive. He is still a leading rebounder even if not in this game and has the bulk to not be pushed around in the paint.

Mallory Briggans 6 months ago

Thomas I cant agree with you more about JCL., but whose minutes does he get. Braun and Ochai arent scoring but Self wont take them out no matter how bad they are playing , Wilson has elevated his game and is strong on the boards ........JCL can give you more scoring than Harris but Self trusts him more..............JCL did have a 20 point game this year so he can score Self had a short leash during the season with Remy and he also has one with JCL

Blake Brown 6 months ago

I thought we had these stinker games out of our system, but not to be. It's great to win when we are no way close to our best and we had every opportunity to excel. We should have been up 20 at half. What's with Och, CB and Mac? And the free throws? Thank you Remy and thank you Jalen for picking us up.

Rodney Crain 6 months ago

This team is not wilting. They believe in themselves and somehow keep finding a way to win the game.

We played a solid 4th seed, the best team that we could face in this round. Our All-American is struggling, our big man is a ghost, CB seems lost, and yet we still won. Free throw shooting, offense from non starters, rebounding by a player who had a difficult start to the year are saving us.

I thought they could get to the Elite 8, now with all the upsets, they can get to the Championship game. Knowing this group if they do, they would believe they are going to win it. After the last two games, you would be hard pressed to disagree with them.

Steve Zimmerman 6 months ago

Very good point, Rod. It's an amazing game. Great defense also saved us. Miami will be tough to deal with. They scored 45% against another defense-minded ISU. They rank #18 adjO according to Kenpom, but with a real and stellar offense - while KU, ranked #6, but with ugly offense plus transition (which won us many games, without Remy, against very good tournament teams in regular season, which also got helped from homecourt adv).

Chad Smith 6 months ago

very proud of the grit and hitting providence right back with a run when they took the lead.

going forward. I need to see more assertiveness from och and cb on the offensive end. defensively they are both great. but och needs to hunt some shots.

and at this point if DMac gives anything point wise and defensively and grabs rebounds I'll consider it a positive. but good lord I've never seen a post player make easy shots look so difficult and missable.

either way, it's a win and now it's onto Sunday. RCJH!

Dirk Medema 6 months ago

Chad - I consider it a plus if David gets the shot off, but you are absolutely right about what’s needed from the 5-spot.

Keith Gellar 6 months ago

Glad we came out with a win. But am i the only one here freaking about Remy's effect on the team.

Don't get me wrong - i'm glad he's going out there and producing, but it seems like it is being done at the expense of KU's offense. When Remy is on the floor, we don't run our usual offense and this is getting OA and CB completely out of whack. Then when they do come in, they are completely out of rhythm.

My concern is if Remy comes out flat and it takes a while for our offense to get going, we will be in a pickle. Luckily - the teams we play from now on are not very good.

But again - something about Remy's role just does not seem organic to me and while its helping us win, its great but these types of things typically don't hold up especially when you need them. hope i'm wrong, but i'd much rather self kick off the game with our usual offense and bring Remy in much letter - maybe after OA and CB get going.

RJ King 6 months ago

THIS!

Remy is like the screwball relief pitcher that you bring in after a fastball pitcher to give the hitters a different look and throw off their rhythm. It works for several innings, until the batters adjust to the erratic chaos.

Everyone seems to have forgotten the 13 games that Remy played in before he got hurt. He wasn't exactly being hailed then as Conference POY. That was Ochai - who was playing in the context of Self basketball. I agree completely that Martin's production is compromising that of the others. That's fine if Remy is "ON."

Now that he's "back," we will surely either win because of him, or lose because of him.

Tony Bandle 6 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] It appears that the "Upset Train" gets derailed Sunday with a 1 [Kansas], a 2 {Duke}, a 2 {Villanova] and North Carolina over 15th St. Pete's advancing to the Final Four.

2] That would be 19 National Championships spread out between all four schools. Lots of pedigree.

3] No way we lose to Miami. They are athletic and competitive but undisciplined and we are just a better team!!!!

4] Nice that all five post game analysts picked Kansas over Miami....even KU hater Seth Thomas.

5] Was that Rex Chapman doing a hell of an impression of Scott Van Pelt? :}.

Rodney Crain 6 months ago

  • 1] we owe either Duke or Villanova some payback. Getting by NC will take our A game. Grizzly Adams, Bacot and Love are a heavy Lift.

  • 3] agree. They have some speed but nothing scares me too bad with Miami

  • 5] YES lol. Rex Van Pelt, the little brother!

Clarence Haynes 6 months ago

I believe that those close games during the season are paying dividends in games like Creighton and last night, Providence.

Bob Zielinski 6 months ago

I have never seen so many violent rim outs. The new Wilson ball is too hard, not broken in at all and if you have headphones on you can hear how hard the ball is when it catches the rim. There are many bunnies being rattled out and the high off the glass floater that has become popular this season is almost useless with this new ball.

Poor decision by NCAA to incorporate a new ball at this point. Add that to the travesty of playing Final Four games in giant stadiums.

What if the PGA mandated all players use a Pinnacle ball for the final round at the Masters? It is about the same thing as putting in these Wilson balls.

Blake Brown 6 months ago

I wondered about that too, then Harris makes 2 shots that were so soft and easy on the rim, they went in. It may be more about the finesse and rotation of the shot.

Mallory Briggans 6 months ago

Although i couldnt tell how hard the Wilson balls were .............he did have 16 points and 11 rebounds ......and 5 for 5 from the free throw line

Blake Brown 6 months ago

Jalen is the GUY. He took it right to the defender every time he had that opportunity. I love his game although he has made some mysterious passes and tanked many wide open shots and even many free throws. His defense has really improved and he is a beast on the boards and moves the ball down the court effortless and in control. Remy kept us up and Jalen secured it.

Brad Watson 6 months ago

Fantastic win!!!!...These games are never easy...so great job by all...Players...Coaches...Everyone involved with the team....get your rest ...do your homework...shoot lots of free throws and get completely and totally locked in mentally for Sunday!!!1 "94 ft. of Hell" ......Good luck!!!!!.

Jeff Coffman 6 months ago

0 free throws in the first half.

Remy coming off the bench is part of the key to success. He has been playing with lightfoot and others when Harris needs a breather and Harris looks to dish, while Remy creates his shot. Ochai needs to set his feet rather than shoot leaning on his 3s.

Either way KU is looking good and Remi is a tournament player.

Robert Brock 6 months ago

Continue playing heavy-duty defense and stop worrying about the offense. Survive & Advance, Baby!

Thomas Harrison 6 months ago

Proud of the extaordinary efforts When the game was not going well! Jayhawk Pride was evident to Anerica tonight! Rock!Chalk!

Len Shaffer 6 months ago

Matt, you said this is Self's eighth appearance in the Elite 8 at KU.

It's actually his ninth: 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022.

Edward Daub 6 months ago

44 is Mitch Lightfoot. I would prescribe "a heavy dose". Nuf sed

Rock Chalk!

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