Archive for Thursday, March 22, 2007

KU survives first Tourney scare, 61-58

March 22, 2007, 8:22 p.m. Updated March 22, 2007, 10:00 p.m.


Kansas' run through the NCAA tournament was slowed to a crawl by scrappy Southern Illinois. The Jayhawks got up just in time to move to the brink of the Final Four.

Brandon Rush scored 12 points without missing a shot, and Kansas eked out a 61-58 victory over Southern Illinois in the West Regional semifinals Thursday night.

Darrell Arthur and Russell Robinson scored nine points apiece to help the Jayhawks (33-4) barely avoid yet another Saluki surprise and another disappointing exit from the tournament. Kansas won its 14th straight game by nursing a small lead through the final minutes against a defense that made the Jayhawks' future NBA stars work exceptionally hard for every basket.

When Tony Young missed a desperate 3-point attempt from half-court at the buzzer, Kansas also dodged its second straight tournament loss at the hands of the Missouri Valley Conference, which takes the "mid" out of mid-major with each passing year. Butler beat the Jayhawks last season, but Kansas advanced to face the winner of UCLA's late game against Pittsburgh.

Jamaal Tatum scored 19 points in his final college game for the fourth-seeded Salukis (29-7), who couldn't get the break they needed to reach the round of eight for the first time in school history with just their second loss in 17 games.

Rush's driving layup with 25 seconds left provided the game's final points, but Tatum missed a chance to tie it on a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left. Randal Falker got the rebound for Southern Illinois, but lost the ball.

Kansas' Julian Wright then missed two potential clinching free throws, but Young couldn't hit his fifth 3-pointer of the night on the run, sending Kansas into a subdued, relieved celebration.

Southern Illinois decisively won the matchup's clash of styles, forcing a deliberate tempo on the high-flying Jayhawks while keeping the possessions long and the score low. The Salukis' defensive aggression and offensive rebounding were complemented by just enough big shots from its struggling scorers to keep it close.

Young scored 14 points on a poor shooting night, and Falker added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Salukis.

Tatum, the MVC's player of the year, shook off a 1-for-8 first half with an outstanding second half. He particularly embarrassed Mario Chalmers, hounding the Jayhawks' high-profile guard and baldly stripping the ball from him at least twice.

Kansas entered last weekend's opening rounds in Chicago as a popular pick to win it all after its roster packed with NBA prospects lost just twice since Dec. 2. The Jayhawks lived up to that billing in a fluid second-round win over Kentucky -- but Southern Illinois presented a defensive challenge that few teams had been able to overcome this season.

The Salukis earned their sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance and the highest seeding in school history after winning the MVC's regular-season title. Their second-round NCAA victory over Virginia Tech was their 29th, setting another school record.

Matt Shaw, whose streak of 81 consecutive starts for Southern Illinois ended when he sprained his ankle in the first-round victory, returned to uniform as the Salukis' first reserve off the bench, contributing nine points -- but he also missed an open shot in the final minutes.

Nine players got a field goal for the Jayhawks, with Chalmers also scoring nine points and Darnell Jackson adding eight.

After the schools traded the lead in the tense second half, Kansas went ahead for good with about 5 minutes left with points from Jackson and Rush. Southern Illinois had several chances to tie or go ahead -- but the Jayhawks' overlooked defense put just enough obstacles in the way.

Wright's free throw with 1:23 left put Kansas up 58-53, but Tatum hit a 3-pointer moments later. Chalmers hit a free throw, and Tatum added another jumper to cut the Jayhawks' lead to 59-58.

But Rush confidently drove the lane and flicked home a basket with the poise that might someday make him the best of his three basketball-playing brothers.

Update #11: Final, KU wins 61-58

Mario Chalmers was fouled by Tyrone Green out of the timeout, and SIU's strategy paid off as he missed the front end. The second one rolled in, making it a three-point game again.

Tatum then pulled up on the baseline and traded Chalmers' one point for two of his own, making it 59-58 KU with under a minute to go.

Brandon Rush banked in two off the glass to give KU a three-point edge with 25 seconds left, and Chris Lowery then called a timeout with :17.8 to go to set up SIU's final sequence.

Jamaal Tatum missed a three from atop the key, and Russell Robinson picked off an errant Randal Falker pass off of the rebound. Julian Wright wound up with the ball and was fouled going up for a dunk with :02.2 left. He missed the first and Bill Self called a timeout before the second was hoisted.

Wright missed the second, and a final halfcourt heave for SIU was short, as KU escaped with a 61-58 win. Jamaal Tatum led all scorers with 19 points for SIU, while Brandon Rush was the lone Jayhawk in double figures with 12. KU will get the UCLA-Pitt winner Saturday in the HP Pavilion.

Update #10: 1:08, second half, KU leads 58-56

Rush was brutally short on the free throw, keeping it a one-possession game. Randal Falker scored from the field for the third time in the half by again backing down Darnell Jackson to pull SIU within one. Mario Chalmers came right back with a leaner in the lane.

Matt Shaw scored again off of an inbounds play following a KU tip out of bounds. Brandon Rush then had his pocket picked by Bryan Millins, but SIU couldn't score in transition, and after Randal Falker's follow was short off the iron, Matt Shaw was called for his first foul of the game, sending Mario Chalmers to the line in the double bonus.

Chalmers hit one of two, then taking a seat on the bench to make way for Russell Robinson with 2:20 to play.

After a Matt Shaw miss from three-point range, Darnell Jackson got to the free throw line in the double bonus after pulling down a defensive board. He hit both to put KU up by four points and two possessions at least with 1:39 left.

Jamaal Tatum worked his way into the lane, but had a layup fall off the front of the rim, and this time it was Julian Wright going to the line for two. Wright made one of two and made it a five-point game. Jamaal Tatum then faked out Brandon Rush, scooted left and swished a three to again make it a two-point game.

Update #9: 3:55, second half, KU leads 52-49

Russell Robinson put KU back ahead for the first time since early in the half thanks to a runner off the glass from straight on with just over six minutes to play. Arthur, though, was then called for his fourth foul, hacking Randal Falker underneath while going up for two.

Falker missed both, but Julian Wright lost the defensive rebounds off of his hands and out of bounds, giving SIU some more breathing room. With it, Tatum tied the game up with a jumper from the top of the key.

Mario Chalmers then got to the line for a one-and-one when KU was put in the bonus away from the hoop. Chalmers hit one of two, putting KU up 48-47 with 5:31 left.

Jamaal Tatum continued to play solid in the second half, putting in points 13 and 14 from atop the key. Darnell Jackson answered right back inside with his third bucket of the afternoon. That was followed with an SIU turnover, but Julian Wright couldn't convert a finger roll in the lane.

Jackson then picked off another Southern Illinois pass with just over four minutes to play, and Brandon Rush put in an and-one off of a miss, giving KU a 52-49 edge with 3:55 left in the game and the free throw to come.

Update #8: 6:36, second half, game tied 45-45

Tyrone Green scored for SIU on a freebie after Darnell Jackson let a defensive rebound slip from his grip following a Tony Young three miss. After Sherron Collins missed his first three look of the day, Rodrick Stewart grabbed the defensive board and eventually got himself to the line on a hard drive down the wing. Stewart rolled in one of two free throws, making it a two-point game.

Tatum came back to get to the free throw line yet again, where he swished his second pair of the day, giving the Salukis their biggest lead yet at 41-37.

Russell Robinson floated in a tear-drop from just inside the elbow to again pull KU within two, but he was called for a loose ball foul on the other end to give KU five team fouls in the half. Falker then again went to work on Darnell Jackson, hooking in another pair. SIU then recovered another loose ball underneath after Chalmers aired a runner in the lane, getting a timeout called on the floor in the scrum.

After SIU's Randal Falker was called for three seconds, Mario Chalmers drew the fourth foul of the game on Tony Young and sent him back to the line. Chalmers stroked in both shots, keeping KU within two points with 8:23 to go.

SIU though continued to go inside against the bigger Jayhawks. This time, Brandon Rush was called for his third foul of the game as Falker found a slashing Matt Shaw underneath. He went to the line for two shots, and he hit two shots, making it again a four-point SIU advantage.

Brandon Rush worked the inside of SIU's defense again, scoring for the fourth time on the afternoon via a pull-up jumper in the middle of the lane. That was followed by a Matt Shaw three miss, rebounded by Darnell Jackson.

Rush then fed Darrell Arthur for an alley-oop inside to tie the game, 45-45, with just over seven minutes to play. KU then was awarded the ball via a shot clock violation off of a shot which replays on TV showed actually hit the rim initially and should have remained with the Salukis.

Update #7: 11:47, second half, SIU leads 37-36

Tony Young had a runner do two laps on the rim and fall out after the timeout, and on the other end, after Mario Chalmers aired his first three-point attempt of the day, Darrell Arthur cleaned up hte mess and pulled KU within one. Sherron Collins then nabbed a Jamaal Tatum miss, and Tony Boyle's third fourl kept the ball in KU's possession as the game crept under the 15-minute mark.

Brandon Rush put KU back on top with his first points since early in the first half coming via a runner on the baseline. KU then forced SIU into a shot clock violation as Bryan Mullins tried to let go of a three-pointer from the corner. After the whistle, Randal Falker came back in for SIU, with three fouls to his credit so far and just five points.

Jamaal Tatum then swiped the ball from Mario Chalmers at midcourt, and had it bounce between Chalmers' legs like a pinball before taking it the other way. He crossed up Chalmers near the rack and was fouled on his way up. Tatum hit both charities, putting SIU up 35-34.

Julian Wright took a Russell Robinson feed inside and slipped two off the glass to give KU back its one-point edge, and Tatum then missed a three on the other end, but SIU got the ball back when Darrell Arthur was called for a foul away from the ball on offense, his third of the game.

Falker went right to work on Darnell Jackson, putting in two the tough way off the rim. KU then was forced into yet another turnover going into a full break.

Update #6: 15:47, second half, SIU leads 33-30

SIU again applied the grips out of the half, and after forcing a Julian Wright miss, the Salukis took the ball thanks to a tie-up on the defensive glass.

Randal Falker tried to score over Sasha Kaun, but after missing long off the back iron, he went over Kaun's back for the board and was whistled for his thired personal foul, sending him to the bench less than a minute into the half.

Russell Robinson rolled one off the back rim on the offensive end and the ball went back to SIU. Jamal Tatum then scored the first points of the half on a fading jumper, pulling the Salukis within one. After Robinson missed off the glass from the right side, Tatum scored on another fader, giving SIU a 28-27 lead.

That was followed by a Brandon Rush turnover and two Tony Young points in transition, as the Salukis have truly made this game into one of their personal style. It also forced Bill Self into a full timeout two-and-a-half minutes into the second stanza.

After Tony Boyle was called for a foul after bumping Mario Chalmers atop the key, the ball was turned over and headed back to the Salukis, who did just the same, trying to push the ball into the paint.

Mario Chalmers was then called for a travel after Russell Robinson was forced to squeeze the ball to him, thanks to suffocating one-on-one pressure from Bryan Mullins.

Tony Young then hit his fourth three of the game, only to see the ball go to Darrell Arthur on the other end after yelling for it. He caught it in the paint and went up to put it in while getting fouled by Young. His free throw fell, keeping KU within three points.

Update #5: Halftime, KU leads 27-24

Darnell Jackson dunked home another pair after the full timeout, putting KU back up by one with the game at the three-minute mark. Rodrick Stewart then hit a short jumper to make it a three-point KU edge at the two-minute mark, following a three miss by Young and a foul by him on the defensive end.

Jamal Tatum missed a three which would have tied the game. SIU then had a chance to hold for the last shot, and Tatum's floater wouldn't fall, leaving KU up by three at the half. Tony Young led all scorers, with nine points. Russell Robinson led KU with five, and the Jayhawks hit just one three-pointer in the first half. Brandon Rush, Julian Wright and Darnell Jackson each had four.

Update #4: 3:21, first half, SIU leads 24-23

Tony Young again sliced it to a three-point game, hitting his second deep ball of the afternoon. Mario Chalmers' second foul followed, as he was called for a charge while driving the lane before kicking it out to Sherron Collins.

Matt Shaw then came down to follow another Randal Falker miss inside, and he was shoved by Sasha Kaun in hte process. His free throw rattled out, but 6-foot Tony Young snuck inside for the board, only to air a deep three later on in the possession, keeping KU up one, 19-18.

Darrell Arthur came down to hit a short-range fading jumper after Sherron Collins was nearly stuck atop the key in a trap. Young then hit his third three of the game, tying it 21-21 with 5:33 left in the first half.

Mario Chalmers then missed a three in the corner which would have quieted the awakened. And after Brandon Rush blocked a Young shot, he was sent to the bench with his second foul after pushing off on Young while bringing the ball up the floor. The ball then went in to Falker, who earned his way to the free throw line against Julian Wright, giving KU its eighth team foul. He hit one of two, giving SIU its first lead of the game.

Darrell Arthur was called for a travel on the other end. Jamaal Tatum then hit his second three of the game, forcing Bill Self to call for a break at 4:09, with his team down four.

Darnell Jackson flushed home two points on the next KU possession, taking a feed from Arthur, who was slipped a sneaky pass from Sherron Collins. A charge call on Randal Falker sent the game into another break.

Update #3: 7:24, first half, KU leads 19-13

Russell Robinson missed a three out of the timeout. From there, the teams swapped three-point misses and turnovers as the game has not found a true tempo yet.

Randal Falker missed a shot inside with the shot clock expiring, but followed his own miss for his first field goal of the game. Julian Wright responded with his first bucket, keeping KU ahead by six points.

Update #2: 11:01, first half, KU leads 17-11

The Southern Illinois fans in San Jose were incensed out of the timeout, as Julian Wright's dunk under the hoop went in just as the buzzer on the shot clock expired. The shot counted, but Tony Young was able to come back with his first three-pointer of the game. After a Mario Chalmers miss, two Saluki threes went off the rim, sending the ball back with KU.

KU turned it over, and in came Sherron Collins and Darrell Arthur. With 6:13 expired, KU has yet to hoist a three-pointer.

Tony Boyle cut KU's lead to three points, pulling down a Jamaal Tatum three miss and slipping it in low off the glass while drawing a foul on Julian Wright. The free throw was true, making it 10-8.

Russell Robinson attempted and made KU's first three-point attempt on the ensuing possession, hitting it from the right wing. Matt Shaw answered back after each team had a turnover, pulling SIU within two with a trey of his own.

Mario Chalmers then checked into the game for Robinson and swished a floater from a few feet away. Tony Young followed it iwth his fourth missed three-point attempt, which turned into two transition points for Sherron Collins.

Update #1: 15:52, first half, KU leads 8-2

Russell Robinson took control of the game's opening tip, and the Salukis immediately applied the clamps. After a near-steal by Tony Young, Robinson was able to twist in for two off the glass with the shot clock melting, making it 2-0 KU.

Bryan Mullins missed a similar shot to start the game for SIU, but KU couldn't capitalize as an inside Julian Wright miss went off the rim. Sasha Kaun scored on KU's next trip, after Brandon RUsh took down a defensive board following a missed Tony Young three.

Randal Falker got himself to the line for SIU and hit both, and in between the shots, junior Matt Shaw, questionable for this game, checked in. Immediately after, Brandon Rush was called for an offensive foul away from the ball. Jamaal Tatum missed a runner in hte lane, and Brandon Rush came down to score his first points of the game off the glass, making it 6-2 KU.

Falker then turned the ball over, and Brandon Rush took a feed from Julian Wright in the open court and spun in his second basket in less than a minute, putting KU up by six.

After an SIU timeout, Falker tried to dunk on Sasha Kaun, but the ball flipped out of the rim, sending the game to its first full timeout.


San Jose, Calif. - During Wednesday's press sessions in San Jose's HP Pavilion, the Kansas University players showed the same suit and tie demeanor which helped them get through two games in Chicago a week ago.

Now the only thing left to be seen is whether the same on-court Jayhawks will show up, starting tonight in a 6:10 p.m. tip against Southern Illinois in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. It's KU's first trip to the Sweet Sixteen since Bill Self's first season at KU in 2004, when the Jayhawks dumped UAB in St. Louis, Mo.

The Salukis, 29-6 this season and regular season champs of the Missouri Valley Conference, are in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season, and each year, the surprise wears off more and more. This year's team is known for its defense. The Salukis have the No. 3 scoring defense in hte country, allowing just 56.1 points per game, ranking behind Princeton and Air Force.


Linda Endicott 10 years, 7 months ago

You know, I was thinking we had played both Michigan St. and Murray St. in 1988, but I was wrong.

We played Michigan St. in the tourney in 1986, there were some questionable calls, but it ended up going into overtime and KU won it 96-86. That year they got into the final four, but lost to Duke, 71-67, in the semi-finals.

The game with Murray St. was in 1988, and Ku won it 61-58, and that game was only in the second round. We beat Duke in the semi-finals that year, 66-59, and went on to play Oklahoma for the title. I think it was the first time that two teams from the same conference had ever played in the final game.

Is anyone else happy that Duke lost out in the first round this year? Now if someone could only knock out NC, too.

Oh, yeah...if you want to see the scores for KU in all the past NCAA tourneys, here's the link to the site I found:

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