Kansas defeats Wisconsin, 69-68

  • 10 a.m., Nov. 24, 2022
  • Paradise Island, Bahamas,

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Pettiford put-back saves No. 3 Kansas in 69-68 OT win over Wisconsin

Kansas players Jalen Wilson (10) and Gradey Dick (4) celebrate the Jayhawks' wild, 69-68 overtime win over Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.

Kansas players Jalen Wilson (10) and Gradey Dick (4) celebrate the Jayhawks' wild, 69-68 overtime win over Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.


Kansas sophomore Bobby Pettiford’s wild put-back of a deep 3-point miss with 0.2 seconds to play in overtime, helped No. 3 Kansas survive a scare from Wisconsin, 69-68 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Thursday.

While the rebound and scoop shot that won the game set off a celebration that featured Kansas fans chanting his name, neither Pettiford nor Kansas coach Bill Self left the gym thinking the shot could be replicated.

“If he thinks about it, he doesn’t make it,” Self said. “That was just natural and fortunately he got it up. That was an athletic play. … I don’t know that he could make it again in 10 attempts, but it was good that he made the one that he did. It was a great shot.”

Pettiford’s shot came off of a rare crash to the glass by the 6-foot-1 guard who is more accustomed to getting back on defense when shots go up.

In this instance, with Kansas down one in the final seconds, there was no reason to worry about defense once Zach Clemence let his 26-foot 3-point attempt fly after KU junior Jalen Wilson’s drive to the rim was cut off by the Wisconsin defense.

“Once he shot it, I just ran full speed, the ball fell in my hands so I just flicked something up and it went in,” a smiling Pettiford said after the win. “Kind of a little bit of luck and skill at the same time.”

The finish was in complete contrast to the way this game was played throughout. Both teams struggled offensively out of the gate but Kansas took control midway through the first half when Gradey Dick hit a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions.

That sparked a 27-14 run by Kansas to close the final 11 minutes of the first half and KU went into the locker room leading 33-20.

Despite the Jayhawks leading for 33:15 of the 45-minute game, Wisconsin never went away.

Kansas led by 15 (41-26) midway through the second half, but saw that lead disappear completely when Wisconsin took a 52-50 lead. KU responded to that deficit with a 10-0 run, but saw that cushion evaporate, as well.

“They had outplayed us totally,” Self said of the final few minutes of regulation and overtime.

While Wisconsin’s style dictated the way the game was played at critical moments, Kansas contributed to their own plight.

The Jayhawks turned it over 13 times on Thursday — compared to six by Wisconsin — and also made just 12 of 21 shots at the free throw line for 57.1%.

There were elements that went KU’s way, though, too. Wisconsin entered the game having given up just nine 3-pointers to its opponents in four games all season and the Jayhawks hit nine in this one alone.

Dick and McCullar made three apiece and Wilson hit a pair. None was bigger than McCullar’s bomb from the top of the key that forced overtime.

After Wisconsin went up by three following a Tyler Wahl bucket late and a pair of free throws by Connor Essegian, KU’s Zach Clemence misfired on a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the corner with 16 seconds to play. Clemence, however, chased down his miss and fired a pass to McCullar at the top of the key while falling out of bounds. McCullar did the rest, stepping into the shot with confidence and knocking it down.

That was a welcome sight for a Jayhawk who opened the game 0-of-5 from the floor and 0-for-4 from 3-point range. McCullar finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, making seven of his next 11 shots after the cold start.

“I tried to keep playing,” McCullar said of his approach after the rough start early. “My teammates kept encouraging me and I finally hit one late when we needed it.”

Most everything that happened late started with Wilson, who scored 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds in another outstanding individual effort by KU’s leading scorer.

Wisconsin knew that would be KU’s plan, though, and started to send multiple bodies Wilson’s way to keep him from beating them. Wilson remained poised in those moments and did what he could to get to the free throw line or find opportunities for others.

The late chance by Pettiford, who had not scored all afternoon, was not a direct result of a play made by Wilson. But his presence and willingness to put the game on his shoulders makes things easier for others.

Wilson, Pettiford, McCullar and their teammates all could not care less who gets the credit as long as the result goes Kansas’ way.

“Just finding a way to win,” Wilson said of the mindset late. “No matter what’s going on or how good or bad we’re playing, we’ve just got to find a way to win and that’s what we did.”

Added Self: “We were not the best team today. We made some plays that allowed us to win, though, and I’m excited to get the win and happy we get the chance to play in the championship game tomorrow.

“We didn’t think it’d be a pretty game going into it, and it lived up to its billing from my standpoint.”

Kansas will take on No. 22 Tennessee in Friday’s championship game, which is slated for 6:30 p.m. on ESPN. The Volunteers, coached by former Texas coach Rick Barnes, knocked off USC, 73-66, in Thursday's other semifinal matchup.


Garry Wright 1 week, 5 days ago

Wow! Kool Kansas Kardiac Kids! Many more games like this and I may not make it through this season! Not sure my heart can take it.

Dirk Medema 1 week, 5 days ago

Probably not recognized in the box scores, but a huge assist to Jalen on the last shot via a tip of the rebound away from Wiscy. Makes up for another subpar FT performance.

Game doesn’t go to OT if he’s not below 60%. As a team leader, he really needs to be above 70%. Coach never has used limited practice time on FTs, but it is something that each player can take it upon himself to improve.

Most KU teams do improve over the course of the season with the ultimate example being the 2008 team. They improved 20% from noncon (60%) to conference (70%) to tourney time (80%), and essentially won the game at the stripe (14 of 15 = 93%!) just as much as Memphis lost it there.

Dirk Medema 1 week, 5 days ago

Oooops. Jalen did go 2/2 late in OT to get to 64%. I was recalling 7/12 in regulation.

For the year, he is also above 70%, buoyed by the first few games. Just been sub-70 at Atlantis.

Steve Zimmerman 1 week, 5 days ago

Why ooops? I'm with you, and it's not only Wilson, as a team leader, our team's FT% needs to improve. It.applies to everyone in the team. We don't need to unnecessarily play in OT, could've spent extra hour to rest those tired legs.

Mallory Briggans 1 week, 5 days ago

As much as i ragged on Harris last year his value was evident when he went out with his 3rd foul against Wisconsin the momentum seemed to change at that point . He hustled his ass first half and got a couple 50/50 balls he seemed to be in the right place at the right time on several occasions . Gradey disappeared second half that cant happen Still would like to see more Udeh and Zuby and less 3 point attempts from Zach . This was one of those 10 games a year Self says you play poorly and win. So that is 3 games on the season that we didnt play to our ability but still won . Kansas currently has the longest current D-1 winning streak and thats nice . On to the championship game

Andy Godwin 1 week, 5 days ago

Take aways. Make free throws Jayhawks. 57.1% FT shooting prevented KU from putting the game away early in second half. Wisconsin fans are sharing an image showing the KU player clearly out of bounds with his foot planted when saving the ball for McCullar’s tying 3-point basket. KU’s bench again was non-existent from the point production (22 for Wisconsin and 2 for KU). Pettiford’s winning basket, which was amazing, was the only bench points. I am not sure what happened to Clemence’s 3-point shooting, but he finished 0-6 (0-5 from 3) and Yesufu 0-2 from the field. I had hoped USC would advance (better matchup) but KU “Bigs” need to show up for the championship game because Tennessee has the experienced size advantage. Lucky win for KU after going up by 8 late and allowing Wisconsin to go on an 11-0 run. KU’s bench needs to give better minutes if they want to win the Battle for Atlantis. Rock Chalk.

RJ King 1 week, 4 days ago

KU’s bench needs to give better minutes if they want to win the Battle for th'Minutes, Self keeps saying that he doesn't want to put the 2 freshmen (bigs) in "that situation," (one they've never experienced - big stage/superior opponents). But there's always the debate over whether to get them that experience now - at the possible expense of losses (but have them battle-tested for conference/or tournament) VS winning games to build up their resume for a higher seed and greater chance for a long tournament run. I thought we'd see some Udai/Zuby with an 8-15 point lead. But not this time.

Micky Baker 1 week, 4 days ago

All good points but Wisconsin Fans might want to point to the dunk missed their first possession of the game.

Steve Zimmerman 1 week, 4 days ago

Great win! Way to get up, box out on those rebounds! However, we've played starters for 38-40 minutes - what's coach BS's strategy tomorrow? Bench is only producing 2 pts, bigs only got 2-3 touches the past 3 games. Are we going to continue shooting 3pt? 26 FTs - 86% made by Tenn today. We avg 16-18 fouls a game this far. Defense has won us single digit. ATO ratio is not where we want this team to be at all. I know this is too early in the season. We have HOF coach. But I'm not impressed how team executes on O (yes, I'm not a fan of that stupid weaving play!!!). Fatigue is going to be a factor. Non starters will find it hard to play with confidence if they get only 3-4 minutes PT. I have high expectation to see high-octane plays by Udeh, Zuby, MJ... dunks dunks and dunks, but..... I guess I have to be thankful this team is still winning (by single digit margin).

Bill French 1 week, 4 days ago

Congrats Matt ! Very special time in your life. Love your writing.......RCJH

Bryce Landon 1 week, 4 days ago

Very thankful for Bobby Pettiford today! His shot made for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Eric Bernauer 1 week, 4 days ago

I've tried to find the image of Zach Clemence's foot out of bounds without success. Anybody have a link to a legitimate image, or is it just sour grapes on Wisconsin fans part?

Garry Wright 1 week, 4 days ago

I really appreciate the sequence of that last bucket being shown on another post. Watching on TV, it was impossible to catch all of the points of action in real time that led to the winning shot. In fact, I had to replay it several times to be able to note all of them. First, Wilson passing the ball out to Clemence. Second, Wilson pointing up for Clemence to shoot the three for either a make or a possible rebound. Third, Pettiford having left his 3-point position heading for the basket to vie for a possible rebound. Fourth, Wilson going to the glass to vie for the rebound. Fifth, Wilson having the where-with-all to see Pettiford crossing under the basket. Sixth, Willson tapping the ball over the top of big man Walh to Pettiford for the putback and winning shot! All of that happened in about three seconds! There had to be some excellent basketball understanding for that sequence along with great coordination for all of that to have happened from those three men. No, it wasn't planned out by our three guys, they just instinctly reacted. Note that Wilson is mentioned in five of the six sequences. He's the heart of this team! And I don't think Bill Self could have drawn up a better plan of action than what these players instinctively came up with.

Mallory Briggans 1 week, 4 days ago

RJ its interesting that Self would say that about the 2 bigs ............Norm didnt think that was so ,so much so that they played in the Duke game . That in my opinion was a much bigger game than the tournament we are in now. So today we play Tennessee with a 7' 1" big with some size against 6'7' Adams .......It gets back to the " T " word trust We all know if Self doesnt trust you he wont play you

RJ King 1 week, 3 days ago

Good points. Doesn't Norm (still) coach the bigs? I wonder if that has anything to do with the trust factor? I can see both sides of the debate. Coaches are kind of damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Dirk Medema 1 week, 4 days ago

Andy - They’re probably not showing the double dribble that wasn’t called earlier. Wiscy drove left to the middle of the lane, gathered the ball, then pivoted right and took one dribble to the basket. Announcers didn’t mention it either. Most players get DD out of their system by jr hi, so it’s obviously not something they are commonly looking for. It just seems rather glaring when it happens.

A DD cost TTU the NC in ‘19. The last play should never have happened because the VATech player DD at midcourt. Right in front of the camera. Should have been 4 Big12 NC in a row.

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