Update #10: Final, KU wins 107-67
CHICAGO, Ill. - Jeremy Case flushed his third three from atop the key, and after getting a steal on the other end, his downcourt feed to Brad Witherspoon put him at the free throw line for the first time in his KU career. He hit one of two. Matt Kleinmann hit a pair of free throws, going as the finishing touches on a KU first round triumph.
Five Jayhawks scored in double figures, and the team hit 100 points without a single player registering 20 or more points. Mario Chalmers led the way with 19 points, while Russell Robinson had 16 points to go with eight assists and four rebounds.
Sherron Collins scored 15 points in his first win as a Jayhawk in front of his hometown crowd, while Darrell Arthur chipped in 12 and Julian Wright had 10 points to go with 10 rebounds. KU will play Sunday just after 4 p.m. against the Kentucky-Villanova winner with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen on the line.
Update #9: 3:23, second half, KU leads 101-58
CHICAGO, Ill. - Darrell Arthur slammed in two points on a dish from Rodrick Stewart after the timeout, and that was followed with a Jeremy Case defensive rebound. Case then took a dish from Rodrick Stewart to hit his first three of the game, putting KU up 93-50.
Case hit his second three to inch KU closer to the 100-point mark for the first time since KU last won an NCAA Tournament game three years ago. After that, Brennan Bechard and Matt Kleinmann checked in for Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur, respectively.
Brady Morningstar's first points of the game came on a three from the corner, putting KU up 99-56 with just under five minutes to play. A Brady Morningstar open court dunk made it 101-58.
Update #8: 7:46, second half, KU leads 88-50
CHICAGO, Ill. - Collins hit a free throw out of the timeout, and it was followed by Russell Robinson taking a pass at halfcourt away from Niagara and finishing with a one-handed slam. KU's points kept coming in transition sequences. Next it was Mario Chalmers with a lefthanded layup after Brandon Rush found him way ahead of the crowd.
Rush then scored himself to give KU an 83-44 lead with the game now under 10 minutes to go. Along with his nine points, Rush has six assists.
Tyrone Lewis scored back-to-back hoops for KU, but Mario Chalmers came back to extend his team-high to 19 points with a three from the top. Julian Wright then tipped in a Jeremy Case three miss to make him the fifth Jayhawk in double figures with 10 points.
Update #7: 11:23, second half, KU leads 75-40
CHICAGO, Ill. - Darrell Arthur tipped in a Julian Wright miss underneath as KU continued to put Niagara away. Sherron Collins then scored two more after Charron Fisher converted on one of two free throws for Niagara. An Arthur free throw and layup made it a 70-38 game, as KU has all but secured its first NCAA Tournament win since knocking off UAB in the 2004 Sweet 16.
Arthur made it five straight points scored as he laid in a lob from Brandon Rush off of a ball screen. He then got himself to the free throw line, hitting one of two as the Jayhawk lead ballooned to 35 points.
Even with the lead, the Jayhawks refused to slow down, as Mario Chalmers picked off a pass at midcourt and soared in for a one-handed dunk, making him the fourth Jayhawk to hit double figures in the point column.
Update #6: 15:44, second half, KU leads 63-37
CHICAGO, Ill. - Charron Fisher, Niagara's leading scorer, put in his first points of the game on the second half's first possession, but Mario Chalmers came right back with his first three of the game. Fisher answered with another two, and Chalmers fired right back again from three-point range.
KU continued to burn the nets, as Russell Robinson swiped a three ball from the top of the key, putting KU over the 60-point mark with just under 18 minutes to go in the game.
Brandon Rush banked in two off the glass just before the two teams headed into the second half's first full break.
Update #5: Halftime, KU leads 52-27
CHICAGO, Ill. - Sherron Collins stroked his first three-pointer in his hometown by swishing one on the left wing out of the timeout. Niagara then slipped a foot ont he baseline on offense, sending the ball back in the Jayhawks' direction. After coming up short on finishing a lob, Julian Wright scored two from in close, to give him seven points on the night and put KU up 40-25.
KU's lead continued to extend, as the Jayhawks are hitting their threes, with Russell Robinson canning his second three of the game, giving himselve nine points, six assists and three steals so far. Two Julian Wright free throws put KU up by 17, and a Niagara turnover handed the ball to KU yet again with less than 90 seconds until halftime.
Sherron Collins' homecoming continued to go swell with a three from the wing to give him 11 points. Rodrick Stewart then got himself in the scoring column after executing a give-and-go with Brandon Rush on the break. He put it in off the glass, drawing a foul with it. The free throw put KU up 50-27.
Russell Robinson became the second KU player to score in double digits with a baseline floater just before the half, putting KU up 52-27. He and Sherron Collins each have 11 points for KU, who was 20-of-39 from the field in the first half and 5-of-10 from three-point range.
Update #4: 3:57, first half, KU leads 35-25
CHICAGO, Ill. - J.R. Duffey hit one of two free throws out of the timeout to pull Niagara within seven points, but after KU turned the ball back over, Darrell Arthur swatted the ball away emphatically into press row. Niagara couldn't score on the possession. In transition, Julian Wright put in a twisting layup while getting fouled. His free throw put KU up 29-19.
Charron Fisher's rough night continued with a turnover in the paint, and it went on the other end as two easy points off the glass for Brandon Rush. Sherron Collins then forced another Niagara cough-up, and while flying down the floor, got to the line yet again. He hit one of two to put KU up 32-19.
Niagara's drought finally ended with a Lorenzo Miles runner in the lane. After a Collins three-point miss, Miles hit a three for Niagara, making it a nine-point game. Russell Robinson extended it back out to 10 points with a free throw, and Darnell Jackson laid in two off the glass in transition to make it 12. Duffey scored again inside, giving him seven points and keeping Niagara within 10.
Update #3: 7:52, first half, KU leads 26-18
CHICAGO, Ill. - Darnell Jackson missed two free throws out of the timeout, but hustled down a defensive rebound on the other end, leading to a fast break opportunity for Sherron Collins, who worked his way to the free throw line. He hit both of his attempts.
J.R. Duffey sliced into the lead by two points after a Julian Wright miss inside. Wright then missed an ill-advised three-point attempts atop the key. Charron Fisher missed from three for the third time on the night, though, and Sherron Collins sped his way up the court for two in front of the rim, putting KU back up by six. It went back and forth then when a Lorenzo Miles layup was answered by Mario Chalmers in similar fashion.
Chalmers then stole an inbounds pass under the hoop on the defensive end, and breezed by Duffey the length of the floor for a layup which put KU up by eight, 26-18.
Update #2: 11:18, first half, KU leads 18-14
CHICAGO, Ill. - With freshmen Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins now on the floor, KU turned the ball over while trying to dump it in the paint to Arthur. Brown came back with another three-pointer, this one tying the game, 10-10, just under five minutes into the game.
Julian Wright made a ncie spin move in retaliation, but left it short off the front iron, sending it back Niagara's way.
Wright scored less than a minute later, though, after Charron Fisher saw a jumper get nothing but glass with the shot clock dwindling. On the way back down, Wright soared high to flush it down with one hand.
J.R. Duffey was the first player to get to the free throw line in the game on the way back down, drawing a foul from Mario Chalmers while going up for a short shot. He hit both charities, tying the game again, 12-12.
Collins and Arthur each missed short looks after the free throws, but Niagara turned it back over once crossing halfcourt. Niagara got the ball back thanks to a jump ball, but Brandon Rush swatted Duffey underneath, and it led to a layup in transition for Chalmers. Tyrone Lewis tied it again, dribbling and driving the baseline for two off the glass. Darnell Jackson, who had just before picked up his first foul, hit a jumper atop the key to answer back.
Darrell Arthur opened it into a four-point lead after some staunch defense on Brown on the perimeter. He hit a turnaround fader on the baseline for his first points of the night.
Update #1: 15:59, first half, KU leads 10-7
CHICAGO, Ill. - Niagara's Charron Fisher controlled the game's opening tip, but while trying to force the ball inside, it led to a turnover, with teh ball taken away by Mario Chalmers. On the other end, Brandon Rush swished a quick three from the top of the key. Clif Brown answered right back with three of his own atop the key.
Russell Robinson hoisted a three from the same spot, missing, and Julian Wright's follow-up rolled off the left side of the rim. Niagara though registered its second turnover in just over a minute. Wright again missed in close, with Brown taking down his second rebound so far.
After another Niagara miss, KU had two more close calls, with first a Sasha Kaun hook and then a Russell Robinson follow both falling off the rim.
Robinson finally scored after Kaun forced a tie-up on the other end. He hit his second three-point attempt of the game, and then scored two on the baseline off a drive and dish from Mario Chalmers, putting KU up 8-3.
Clif Brown continued to be Niagara's only offense, tipping in a Tyrone Lewis miss on the baseline, but he was then backed down in the lane by Kaun, helping KU keep a five-point advantage on his first points of the game. Lewis scored for Niagara on a leaner in the lane, pulling the Purple Eagles back within three.
CHICAGO, Ill. - If history has anything to do with it, Kansas University will claim its first NCAA Tournament win since 2004 tonight in a first round matchup with 16-seed Niagara, kings of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Then again, the odds haven't favored the Jayhawks too much in their two previous March Madness forays.
Tip-off is set for 6:10 p.m. in the United Center, where KU will try to avenge first round losses to Bucknell in 2005 and Bradley in 2006. This time, though, KU comes in as a one-seed, and no team with such distinction has ever dropped a first round game.
KU will tell you, though, that the Purple Eagles are much better than the 16-seed they were given. Four Niagara players average in double figures in scoring, led by junior wing Charron Fisher, who pous in 20.7 points per game. Senior forward Clif Brown tied his career best with 32 points in Niagara's 77-69 win over Florida A&M Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio, in the opening round game.