Atlanta Yes, Kansas University did go down
"But at least we went out swinging," KU junior forward Drew Gooden said after the Jayhawks' crazy 97-88 loss to Maryland in a Final Four semifinal at the Georgia Dome.
"Coach told us to keep fighting all the way and that's what we did."
The Jayhawks who raced to a 13-2 lead to begin the game, only to see Maryland lead, 44-37, at halftime and extend the margin to an astounding 83-63 with 6:11 left actually had a chance at the end, cutting the gap to four at 92-88 with :19.8 left.
At that point, after KU's frenetic 25-9 run, senior Jeff Boschee called a time out the Jayhawks didn't have Nick Collison and Gooden said they also were trying to call time outs and Juan Dixon made one of two free throws from the resultant technical foul.
The Jayhawks (33-4) couldn't convert the rest of the way however, and Maryland canned four free throws in the last 13.3 seconds to assure the victory and a spot in Monday's national championship game against Indiana.
"It's good we went down swinging," junior forward Nick Collison said after scoring 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, "but we are not into moral victories around here. I'd rather go out making a stand, making a comeback like we did, rather than the way we were playing earlier. It's better off this way, but we're still not pleased we lost at the Final Four. That's not what we came to do."
Prior to KU's furious comeback, the Jayhawks had a Jeckyll-Hyde performance.
First came the 13-2 start which was fueled by two threes from Kirk Hinrich, who scored 11 points in 29 foul-plagued minutes, and one from Boschee, who capped his college career with 17 points.
"I think we came out and played well defensively, got up and had a letdown. We've talked all year about playing 40 minutes," Hinrich said. "Maybe we thought it'd be easy."
The Terrapins righted the ship, thanks in large part to Dixon, who had 19 of his 33 points in the first half. He had five points in an 8-0 run that sliced the early deficit to 13-10.
Gooden, who finished with 15 points and nine boards, hit just one of six shots in the first half, good for just four points on 1-of-5 shooting. Two of his first three offerings were blocked by Chris Wilcox, with a third turned away by center Lonny Baxter.