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Still Dancin': Azubuike leads Jayhawks to third straight Elite Eight appearance

25 March, 2018, 01:04 | Author: Christina Hansen
  • Still Dancin': Azubuike leads Jayhawks to third straight Elite Eight appearance

Clemson punched its ticket to the Sweet 16 with a 84-53 romping of No. 4 Auburn.

Clemson lost to Kansas, 80-76, in the NCAA Tournament Friday night, but the Tigers made a brilliant rally in a Sweet 16 game, and senior Gabe DeVoe had a memorable game on a big stage.

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.

Self called his team "soft" earlier this season, but he is now three wins away from a national title, and he wants his hardened team to have some fun.

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There were multiple times in the Big 12 season when it was presumed Texas Tech would overtake the Jayhawks for the league title, or perhaps West Virginia.

"He makes everything easier for us", Graham said. Svi Mykhailiuk was too timid and inconsistent.

Azubuike got into foul trouble late but it wasn't enough to stop him from completing a dominant game down low. Newman led KU in scoring for the fifth time in his last six games and was one of four Jayhawks to score in double-figures.

Those problems are real. Plus, Udoka Azubuike, their best big man, has gotten back from injury just in time. "I just told the guys in the locker room. this year, we've got to get over the hump", said senior Devonte' Graham, who had 16 points. "Earlier in the year we lost a couple of games that we lost our poise and we made the wrong decisions in crunch time". "If we slip up and don't come prepared, it's going to be the end of the season".

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The NCAA.com website had poked fun at the workplace-tournament tension for years by having a "boss click" for computers so that employees can switch to a screen filled with graphics and data when the boss walks by. "But here we are playing in that game". "I respected Coach so much - in the moment I was just thrilled I did my part to deliver for him".

The key to Kansas' season has been embracing its shortcomings. Both of them know what it takes to win these NCAA tournament games. But the Tigers reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 1997 even after losing Donte Grantham, perhaps their best player. Add in Clemson being among the teams named in the latest round of news from the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe, and it's easy to see how recruiting remains a hurdle, even if the on-court product has vastly improved. "I really believe that sometimes playing close to home can actually be a little bit more of a distraction or bring a little bit of pressure".

How to watch as the Tigers and Jayhawks battle for a spot in the Elite Eight.

The Wildcats kept the momentum going, stretching the lead to 76-66 on a 3-pointer by Brunson. "So one of the reasons they're so hard to guard is they've got a center that scores if he catches it deep, and he's bigger than everybody on the floor so he does get position, and then you've got guards that can all make shots and drive by you, and they play with great spacing". And that means defenders aren't shadowing shooters.

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It got a fine supporting-actor effort from Silvio De Sousa, the Angolan who joined the team in December, and it got another gem from March-hot guard Malik Newman, who shot 6 for 11 overall and 4 for 7 from three-point range, had 17 points and said: "My confidence is just sky-high". "I think his passing is underrated".

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