NCAA tournament: Villanova pip West Virginia to join Kansas in Elite Eight

Clyde Nash
March 25, 2018

A towel draped over his shoulders and a black brace supporting his left knee, Azubuike dapped up a teammate, senior guard Devonté Graham, before entering the handshake line and joining another one, sophomore guard Malik Newman, for interviews on press row.

The Jayhawks, the top-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional, downed No. 5 seed Clemson, 80-76, in a Sweet 16 battle on Friday night at CenturyLink Center.

Clemson had scored five straight points to cut KU's lead to 35-27 late in the first half when Elijah Thomas, after a review, was called for a flagrant foul. "And so, hey, we're in this game". "Really tried to rally the guys in the first half when we got down, just continued to fight". The Jayhawks went just 4-of-13 from deep in the first half, but erupted for a 6-of-10 performance from downtown in the second half. On the other end, Clemson missed a 3-pointer but got a putback with 4.6 seconds left. His lone slip up came in the Jayhawks' opening round game against Penn when his backcourt mate Devonte' Graham went for 29.

This year has often been about what this Kansas team couldn't do after the losses of Frank Mason and Josh Jackson and then the ineligibility of Billy Preston. "I feel like it's bigger than the National Basketball Association playoffs", he said.

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After KU opened the game hitting just five of its first 15 shots, the Jayhawk shooters found their touch.

In an unforgettable NCAA tournament that has delivered unprecedented upsets (UMBC stole our hearts) and unbelievable last-shot drama (Loyola-Chicago has kept them beating), we finally have a main event.

Udoka Azubuike was a force inside for Kansas with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Azubuike held his own defensively, too. The same for coach Larry Brown, who together with Manning delivered the Jayhawks a title in '88.

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Lagerald Vick had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Jayhawks, who into halftime with a 40-27 lead but needed to hold on down the stretch. Our Ricky O'Donnell has Kansas slated as the team with the fifth-best chances of cutting down the nets when all is said and done at the NCAA tournament. "Will practice today. And unless something unforeseen happens he'll be starting and be full speed tomorrow". "You get to learn how to play with guys", Graham said.

"So when I started watching film, I just thought, man, this is a tough matchup", Wright said, "and if we survive this, we're a pretty mentally tough team, and this is going to be like an old-school, grind-out game". "Syracuse is going to be a completely different team". Kansas ranks fifth in the country in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive efficiency in large part because of the ease with which it generates points from beyond the three-point arc. He's been a force inside with a field goal percentage 77.5, which when combined with KU's three-point shooting talent is a potent mix. It won the Big 12 tournament with three double-digit victories. Svi Mykhailiuk contributed nine points and Silvio De Sousa scored nine to go with six rebounds. Lightfoot is best suited as a reserve with a limited workload.

He has previously led nine teams into a regional championship game - seven with Kansas, one each at Tulsa and IL.

The key to Kansas' season has been embracing its shortcomings.

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And so. three consecutive Elite Eights. "It is special", Graham said.

Other reports by Info About Network

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