Archive for Friday, March 23, 2007

Extra Minutes: Kansas 61, Southern Illinois 58

March 23, 2007

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Some thoughts...from San Jose

Gary Bedore, Journal-World KU men's basketball beat writer

"I can picture some Kansas fans screaming at the TV on this one. Missed free throws down the stretch, some awful offensive play.

Hey ... relax. Don't worry, be happy.

SIU is GOOD. The Saluki defense is GOOD. KU has reached the Elite Eight in a grind it out regional.

UCLA game may be ugly also. Keep the faith, folks. Maybe these sophomores are destined to reach the Final Four. Rush sure hit a nice shot in the lane when it counted and how bout Darnell?"

Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor

"It took a couple of bangers who play Southern Illinois-style basketball for Kansas to pull this one out against the Salukis. Sure it was the main man, Brandon Rush, who took over offensively at the end, but without eighth man Darnell Jackson and ninth man Rod Stewart making tough play after tough play, Kansas doesn't survive and advance."

Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor

"The three-point shot, which KU has frequently mixed in this year to its fast-paced offensive attack to create scoreboard separation, wasn't there. So what. KU still found a way to win a grind-it-out game, which was just what the Jayhawks anticipated Thursday.

Brandon Rush and Russell Robinson each put on probably their best mid-range displays all season, with the highlights being Robinson putting KU back on top with just over six minutes to go, and Rush hitting the game's final field goal up close with 25 ticks left. Rush, also, is 12-of-13 from the field in KU's last two games."

Ryan Wood, Journal-World sports reporter

"Small mistakes aside, Southern Illinois played a fabulous game and gave Kansas everything it could handle. The name and the conference doesn't matter. The Salukis are legit.

That said, it's a big win for KU mainly because it IS a win in a single-elimination tournament. Go back to the last two Final Fours the Jayhawks played in - they didn't come without close victories that make everyone sweat. A win on Saturday and this year's run will fall into the same category."

Inside the numbers

1: KU had one player score in double figures for just the second time this season, and KU hit just one three-pointer for the first time this season. Neither proved to matter too much, as balance again was key. KU's big men showed up in numbers, with Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur each posting huge second halves for KU against Randal Falker, who improved greatly after the half on the offensive end.

12: Brandon Rush in KU's past two games has connected on 12 field goal attempts compared to just one miss. Going even further, in the second round win over Kentucky, all six hoops were threes, while on Thursday they all came inside the arc. There's a reason Bill Self calls him the team's best offensive player.

19: It's hard to discredit the 19 points poured in by SIU's Jamaal Tatum, 17 of which came in the second half, as he hit numerous step-backs, including two in the final minutes. His game went beyond that, though, as his perimeter defense so sticky that SIU forced KU into 19 turnovers. He's one heckuva player, no doubt about that. He'd make a great guard in any conference in the country.

26: KU's 26 rebounds went in the books as a season low. If KU could have rebounded more efficiently in the first half, it might have led by more than three points at halftime, as the Salukis were just 8-of-29 from the field in the game's first 20 minutes.

9: That's how many free throws KU missed in a woeful 10-of-19 showing from the stripe. Mario Chalmers had an uncharacteristic three misses, while Julian Wright clanked a pair with less than 10 seconds to go in the game. One of them would have iced it, and instead, SIU had one last prayer from midcourt to tie the game and send it to overtime. That 800-pound gorilla might never die.

Just in case you missed it...

Even though KU scored just 61 points, which was its second-lowest total this season, the Jayhawks still shot 59.5 percent from the field. That means they didn't take stupid shots in a slowed-down game, which is a pace that on paper favored the underdogs. The Jayhawks might face a similar challenge Saturday against another defensively-solid team in UCLA, who was last year's national runner-up.

Hopefully you didn't miss it...

Darnell Jackson and Rodrick Stewart both came up huge. Darrell Arthur was again in foul trouble, and Julian Wright just had a tough time finding a rhythm. Stewart showed flow on offense and was, as always, a more-than-capable defender. Jackson had eight points and five rebounds, plus was the most likely candidate to step up against a punch-you-in-the-mouth opponent. Opportunities seized for both of them.

They said it...

Sherron Collins on KU surviving its first scare of the NCAA Tournament: "It feels good to get one out of the way, a close game. I think we needed it though, and coach said we needed it. We knew it was going to be a dog fight, and I thought we did a good job sticking in there fighting and coming out with the win."

Russell Robinson on SIU making it ugly: "In a tournament like this, you kind of expect that. And this game is going to prepare us for the next game. The next game is probably going to be similar like that. It's starting getting down to the elite teams, it's going to get tougher, and we showed we've got to be tough and be able to win any type of game."

Darnell Jackson on SIU's defense: "Whatever their coach is teaching them on defense, it was text book, right on point, everywhere on the court. Whoever we get, I don't think we'll ever see another defense like that again...We've just got to be ready like coach Self said. If you get hit, don't cry about it, just keep moving....SIU is a great team. They play tremendous, man. Their energy level is so high. I don't think one of their guys ever got down down there. I like their defense. It was great....I wasn't worrying about their defense before the game, but once I got out there, I was like man, they're everywhere. They're like a whole bunch of cats, just jumping and clawing."

Darnell Jackson on getting Brandon Rush going offensively: "Everything started flowing when I told Brandon to shoot the ball. I could just see it in his face like he had to get into it. So I just tell him, every game, just shoot it. So when he started making shots, it opened things up for us."

Darnell Jackson on SIU lingering at the game's end: "That was a big scare for us when Julian missed those two free throws. I thought one of the guys was going to hit a halfcourt hsot and send it to overtime. But it didn't, so we've just got to get that out of our systems, take a deep breath, relax and be ready to play Saturday."

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