Denver Kansas survived Raef LaFrentz's career-low, one-point outing on Friday night. For that, LaFrentz, the Jayhawks' 6-11 sophomore forward, is extremely grateful.
"It hurts a little bit, but that game is behind me. We slipped out a 'W' and that's what counts," said LaFrentz. He missed four shots and had four rebounds in 23 minutes as the Jayhawks claimed an 83-80 NCAA West Regional semifinal victory over Arizona.
LaFrentz insists he felt fine during the game.
"No, I wasn't sick. It looked that way, didn't it?" LaFrentz said.
He hopes to bounce back during today's 1:40 p.m. final against Syracuse. The winner goes to the Final Four; the loser calls it a season.
"Throw it away. It's just one game. There's nothing I can do about it now," LaFrentz said. "Anytime you have a performance like that, I question myself. Still it gives me incentive. I want to come out strong and show it was just a slipup."
LaFrentz has been able to keep his sense of humor about his off-night.
"Scot and I joked about it last night. We said we're saving all our energy for Syracuse," LaFrentz said. Pollard had just seven points Friday. "Really, Arizona did a great job defending us. They made every look a difficult look.
"Fortunately B.J. (Williams, 18 points) really stepped up and played well."
LaFrentz will likely guard Syracuse standout John Wallace today. Wallace is 6-8, 225.
"I'm ready for the challenge and excited about it," LaFrentz said. "He will challenge us offensively and defensively."
Haase's status: KU guard Jerod Haase bruised his right elbow on Friday night. He practiced Saturday at McNichols Arena and should be ready for today's game.
"It is a little tender and swollen, but as far as movement, it is fine," Haase said.
Haase hit the game-winning three-pointer against Arizona in front of his high school coach, Tom Orlich, who flew in from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., for the regional.
"It was kind of a last-minute plan," Haase said. "I was kind of surprised he came. He's meant a lot to me. He believes in my shot."
Haase has come a long way in the past several weeks. His three-pointer at :35.9 wiped out a 79-78 deficit. Remember, at Missouri, he turned down a three-point shot and instead threw a bad pass inside that was intercepted in the waning seconds.
"I wanted to take it," Haase said. "Against Missouri...it's a shot I should have taken. Make it or miss it, I should have taken it. I was not in the rhythm of that game."
Haase said he may remember Friday's three a long time. "Make it or miss it I wanted to try it," he said. "I felt the pass coming to me two or three seconds before Jacque threw it. I'm just thankful he had confidence in me."
Vaughn did. "I was thinking, 'All net, baby. I've got confidence in you, J.,''' Vaughn said. Vaughn and Haase are rooming together on this trip, as they did last weekend in Tempe, Ariz., when the Jayhawks won their first- and second-round games.
Remember Virginia: Today, KU faces a team similar to last year's Virginia team, the one that ousted KU from the NCAAs. Syracuse will play zone and, like Virginia, has some bulk inside in Wallace and Otis Hill.
"It is an opportunity. We can prove we can learn from our mistakes," Vaughn said. "They are physical inside. We have not shot well this year and they have the 2-3 zone that can cause us problems if we let it."
B.J.'s big game: B.J. Williams on his 18-point outing against Arizona: "I just have to credit my teammates for finding me open. I give all the credit to them," said Williams, who hit 8 of 12 shots.
He said he knew he was in for a big game when he banked in a long jumper from the top of the key.
"I had a feeling it might be my day," he said. "I work on that (outside) shot every day running the secondary break. I am supposed to make that shot."
Happy Jayhawks: Freshman T.J. Pugh on KU's emotions after Friday's win: "We were really excited. Emotions run high this time of year," Pugh said. "I don't think that will take it out of us. We're excited. We're not tired."