Archive for Monday, March 31, 2008

Kansas avoids opening upset

March 31, 2008

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2008 NCAA Tournament

2008 NCAA Tournament

Get your March Madness fix at KUSports.com.

— Kansas University coach Bill Self is a big fan of basketball history.

He was determined the Jayhawks not end up on the wrong end of it.

Well aware that no No. 16 seed ever had beaten a No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament, Self addressed fears the Jayhawks would become the first victim head-on.

"Being a 1 seed is great," Self said. "A 1 seed will lose (in first round). It will happen. And when it does, it will be one of the 'intros' to the NCAA Tournament until eternity. We didn't want it to be us."

Not to worry.

The Jayhawks, despite an early wake-up call for the 11:25 a.m. tipoff, started fast and cruised into the second round with an 85-61 rout of Portland State. KU bolted to a 49-26 lead and never was challenged.

"Coach Self made sure we were ready. He jumped us early this morning. He told us, 'You guys gotta wake up!" KU senior Darnell Jackson said.

Self was worried the early wake-up call could leave the Jayhawks lethargic.

So he woke 'em up with a fiery pregame speech.

"I definitely was probably more animated before the game," Self said, "just because it was very early and also, the arena is cold. So early and cold usually lends itself to not great energy. Our energy wasn't fabulous, but it was pretty good."

Brandon Rush had 15 points the first half off 6-of-11 shooting as the Jayhawks closed on a 25-8 run, thanks to 54.1 percent shooting.

"We played great," Rush said. "We played great in the first half. We made shots. I made a conscious effort to drive the ball and not just shoot from the outside."

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