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Archive for Sunday, April 1, 2012

NO FOOLIN’! Believe it: KU makes title game

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson takes in the roar of the crowd as he leaves the floor following the Jayhawks' 64-62 win over Ohio State on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson takes in the roar of the crowd as he leaves the floor following the Jayhawks' 64-62 win over Ohio State on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Superdome.

April 1, 2012

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey

Kansas coach Bill Self and players talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 64-62 victory over Ohio State in the Final Four on March 31, 2012.

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ohio State's Thad Matta, William Buford and Jared Sullinger

Ohio State's Thad Matta, William Buford and Jared Sullinger talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 64-62 win over the Buckeyes on March 31, 2012.

KU vs. Ohio State

Box score

— Kansas University’s basketball team — the one with no McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster — will play in the national championship game Monday night.

“I can’t believe this,” ninth-year KU coach Bill Self said of his thoughts following a one-for-the-ages, 64-62 come-from-behind victory over Ohio State in Saturday’s Final Four semifinal at the Superdome.

“Of all the teams to make it this far ... ”

This somewhat-flawed KU team (32-6) erased a 13-point first-half deficit and nine-point halftime deficit and defeated a Buckeye team (31-8) for the second time this season.

“This has aged me a lot,” Self said with a smile, “but I’ve also never had more fun coaching a group of kids. How cool is it that the two winningest programs of all time play Monday for the national championship?”

Indeed, KU, which is second in all-time wins, will meet Kentucky, which is first, at 8:23 p.m. Monday with everything on the line.

“I feel I had to be as happy as I could get because that had to be as sad as they could get,” KU junior Elijah Johnson said of his reaction as Travis Releford inbounded the ball with 2.9 seconds left and Johnson ran out the clock on KU’s thrilling victory.

The final play came after a lane violation on a free throw that Aaron Craft deliberately missed after a KU foul in the backcourt.

The foul sent the sophomore guard to the line rather than letting OSU attempt a possible game-tying three on the final possession.

The Buckeyes inexplicably did not foul Johnson as the clock expired with KU still up by two.

“I don’t think they knew what was going on,” Johnson said of the final inbounds play. “They were trying to get situated. I saw the referee about to blow the whistle. I knew he was about to hand it to ‘Trav.’ I was trying to hide behind him and play it cool. As soon as the official handed it to Trav, I broke loose. By the time they realized what was going on, it was over.”

Earlier, Releford (15 points, six rebounds) had swished two free throws at 1:37 (following a Jeff Withey block of a Craft shot) to erase a 59-58 deficit and give KU a one-point lead.

Johnson hit a driving layup following another Withey block — this one of William Buford from behind — and KU led, 62-59, at 1:11.

“Travis is the most confident free-throw shooter I’ve ever seen. When he’s at the line, he tells me not to go in the lane (too soon),” said junior forward Thomas Robinson, who scored 19 points, 11 the second half.

“It shows you that all you need at the line is confidence, which he has,” Robinson added.

Withey finished with seven blocks to go with his four points.

“We fed off Jeff’s energy tonight,” said forward Kevin Young, who had five rebounds in 11 minutes.

Up three points, the Jayhawks benefited from a steal by Robinson, who took it away from Buford. However, on the ensuing possession, Withey was called for a controversial travel in the lane at :27.

Buford slam-dunked to cut the gap to 62-61 at :9.6.

Next, Tyshawn Taylor (10 points, 4-for-4 from line) swished two free throws, and KU led, 64-61 with 8.3 seconds left.

Taylor stole the ball, but gunned a pass out of bounds toward Johnson with 3.8 seconds to play, giving OSU a final possession.

“It was like a quarterback third-and-long, and he missed bad. It was not even close,” Self said of Taylor’s pass.

“He could have held the ball there, but that’s Tyshawn, too,” Self added with a laugh.

Up three, Self elected to foul Craft in the backcourt rather than let the Buckeyes attempt a game-tying trey.

“If they were in a two-shot situation, I might not have done it,” Self said of fouling, “but the first one was the one with pressure (in a one-and-one situation). He made it. The second one, he crossed the line way too early.”

Indeed, with OSU down two and its only hope a wacky rebound and stickback shot, Craft instead stepped over the line while horsing up a quick free-throw shot, and KU was able to inbound and end the game.

“That’s coach Self being the genius he is,” Robinson said. “We’re up three with under five seconds left, no reason to let them get a snip at a three. We fouled them and got the ball back and won the game.”

Withey finished with seven blocks while guarding OSU’s Jared Sullinger most of the game. Sullinger hit five of 19 shots and scored 13 points.

“I think my length bothered him a bit,” Withey said. “It was not my best game offensively, but defensively we did what we needed. He’s one of the candidates for player of the year. He can run, jump. I tried to keep my hand in his face.”

Cold-shooting KU hit just 11 of 30 shots the first half (44.6 for game to OSU’s 33.9) and missed five of six threes in falling behind, 34-25, at the break.

Robinson and Taylor combined for 14 points off 6-of-17 shooting. Buford had eight and Sullinger seven for OSU.

“I thought tonight we came out slow, like we were in quicksand,” Self said. “Let’s face it, it’s a different pressure out here tonight. At halftime, we said enough of this nonsense. We came out the second half and defended well, rebounded well, did everything that could give us a chance.”

Now it’s on to Monday’s game against Kentucky.

“I told the guys our Bourbon Street was our locker room,” Self said.

Comments

Dan Eyler 2 years, 8 months ago

Great game with a whole lot of great coaching of a bunch of good basketball players. Way to go Hawks!

burnmu 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm watching that one again today. Congrats guys, what an amazing effort by the whole team. One more and we'll be out in the streets once again! RCJH!!!

tomatogrower 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm not sure my heart can take watching yet another game like that tomorrow. But that's ok, as long as they win.

tyson travis 2 years, 8 months ago

This type of game is shortening my life span! Oh, well, it could be worse, we'll be wearing the underdog blue shirts just like Danny in '88 and Mario in '08, they're lucky for us (puh-leeze don't wear the red ones!) Watch out UK, ambush is coming!

CreatureComforts 2 years, 8 months ago

Kansas doesn't lose in blue jerseys in even numbered years

tyson travis 2 years, 8 months ago

One other comment...non-political of course! With Obama's backing to go all the way the past two years, we choked against nobodies (N. Iowa, VCU, who?) Now we're on our own and on a roll. Nothing would make me happier than to see the 'Hawks in the Rose Garden watching Obama eat his bracket.

CreatureComforts 2 years, 8 months ago

That being said, Obama's brackets are usually solid. Maybe not for KU, but in general - dude is pretty good. Better than me, for sure.

dougr 2 years, 8 months ago

Another example of why great individual talents often fall short of meeting expectations and great teams win. If you watch this Jayhawk team closely you'll notice that every time they get away from 'team' play their overall performance goes to pot but when they are playing team basketball, they are lethal. Regardless of the final outcome, this team has earned my respect along with the respect of the 99% that didn't think they would ever have a chance.

Go Jayhawks! Douglas Rodriguez CatHawk Fan A House United

CHEEZIT 2 years, 8 months ago

Not necessarily better but Whithey guarding the inbounder, stealing the pass and dunking it!!!

BigAl 2 years, 8 months ago

Absolutely love all of this!!! Is anyone else bothered by some of those camera angles during the game and some commercials during free throw shooting? When it goes to live action, the camera shows us the net but not the rim. Sometimes. It just drives me nuts.

We missed the last couple of seconds of the game because the tv director decided to show us a replay of Croft's free throw and we missed the inbounds pass from Releford to Johnson.

Speaking of that free-throw, due to the camera angle, we missed the shooter leaving the line and heading for the basket. Terrible.

Kate Rogge 2 years, 8 months ago

Al, you must have heard us screaming in the field house about just that.

Gregory Newman 2 years, 8 months ago

Ive said it all season. If EJ and Releford dribble drive to hoop they can't be stopped. They're big and fast. The 3 fastest guards in the country. Now I call forth a fast dribble drive making those pull up mid-range jumpers (7-14) feet that creates lob city to T-Rob and Withey. Plus 7 block shots by Withey. Kansas wins by 10

Mike Anderson 2 years, 8 months ago

Go Jayhawks ...

I would love to hear those gusy who left early last year for the NBA ... Selby who at best warms the bench, Morris twins ... with one spending time in the developmental league ...

Wonder what these guys think now. Yes they are in the NBA but far from the center of attention. Yes they are making money but does that money compare to playing on center stage like the Hawks will be on Monday night. Easy for me to 2nd guess but they blew it. Those who follow in the future I hope they think about the opportunity to play rather than sit the bench. All those in the NBA can play ...

Jeff Kilgore 2 years, 8 months ago

Well, they are millionaires. In some ways, they're thinking of their families first, even though some might laugh at that.

rgh 2 years, 8 months ago

We need to root for our former players in the NBA. Remember that Coach Self also helps them make decisions. I can't blame the Morris' for going, but I thought Selby definitely needed the extra year but he got drafted so I guess I was wrong.

rgh 2 years, 8 months ago

The Kansas Kardiac Kids do it again. Let's win one more Monday for these guys who have worked so hard for all these years behind the scenes making KU great. Only Tyshawn coming back with any substantial playing time makes this sweet.

SLJC 2 years, 8 months ago

How about a special round of applause for Elijah and Travis. I think this was EJ's first ever double-double, and Travis also had a hell of a game.

Two guys who don't get a ton of "pub" coming up huge at a great time. Way to go guys!

phoggyjay 2 years, 8 months ago

Here we go... can't wait for tonight! Rock Chalk!

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