“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”
The No. 1 seed Jayhawks certainly didn’t want to be the first
team in history to lose to a No. 16 seed. Despite an early 7:15 a.m.
wake-up call and playing in a cold Qwest Center Omaha arena, Kansas
seized its opportunity and cruised to an 85-61 victory over the
Kansas will next face UNLV at approximately 5:50 p.m. on Saturday.
Vegas beat Kent State, 71-58, in its first-round matchup.
The Jayhawks came out of the gates running, dunking, and swishing
three-pointers against Portland State. Kansas, which built a 14-3 lead
with 14:30 remaining in the first half, just had too much firepower and
too much talent for the undermanned Vikings.
While Kansas certainly didn’t bring it’s
‘A’ game the second half (KU outscored Portland
State by just one after leading by 23 at halftime), the Jayhawks
survived and advanced.
“It was great to get this first one off our belt,”
said senior guard Russell Robinson, who helped contain star guard
Jeremiah Dominguez (13 points). “Now we got our jitters out
and we’re ready to play. We shot the ball pretty well (64.3
percent in the first half, compared to just 45.5 percent after
halftime). We didn’t defend particularly well, but we hit a
lot of shots and were able to get a nice lead.”
KU built its 14-3 cushion behind seven points from sophomore forward
Darrell Arthur. After a few defensive breakdowns by Kansas and some
easy Portland State baskets and two three-pointers, the Vikings marched
back to cut the lead to 24-18 with 9:17 remaining in the first half.
And then KU took complete control of the game.
Kansas burst out with a 12-0 run to lead 36-18, including seven points
by Brandon Rush. The junior guard hit a floater in the lane, an
offensive put-back in the paint on his own missed three-pointer, and a
three-ball from the left wing. Sophomore guard Sherron Collins also hit
a three ball during that run, while junior guard Mario Chalmers got a
fastbreak dunk off a steal.
“The main thing is we got out and ran and just kind of set
the tone of the game and got some easy shots,” Robinson said.
After Portland State responded with a 6-0 run, KU went on an 8-0 run on
two three throws by senior forward Darnell Jackson and two
three-pointers by Collins and Rush to lead 44-24. Collins hit another
trey to put KU up 49-26 at halftime.
KU scored 17 points off 10 Portland State turnovers the first half.
Rush led KU with 15 points and finished with a game-high 18.
Arthur scored 17 points, while Chalmers and senior forward Darnell
Jackson added 16 and 10, respectively.
While Kansas let up the second half, Portland State got no closer than
19 points (55-36 at the 13:32 mark). The Jayhawks’ biggest
lead was 29 points (73-54) with over five minutes remaining. Self began
clearing the bench at that point.
“I thought we played well in the first half, and the second
half, I didn’t think we played very well,” Self
said. “I think the guys relaxed a little bit and we made some
pretty careless turnovers. ... All in all, we played pretty
“I think there’s a lot of reasons why that could
occur, especially during the NCAA Tournament,” Self added
about the rough second half. “We’re on a roll
(heading into halftime). You sit in there for 20 minutes. Twenty
minutes is a long time to sit in a locker room. That’s not an
excuse, but that’s the fact. No matter how much you say,
‘Hey, the score is 0-0, let’s control the second
half,’ they can look up there and see the score. ... We also
played a lot of guys the second half, too, and sometimes different
combinations doesn’t lend itself to looking as good as we did
the first half when we only played basically seven guys.”
For Kansas, the key was jumping on the Vikings early in the game.
“I was always told when you wrestle, it’s so much
easier to wrestle when you’re on top than when
you’re underneath, because you use so much more
energy,” Self said. “It’s the same with
basketball. You burn less energy on top than you do from behind.
It’s so important to get off to a good start and not let the
other team think they can play with you or beat you. I’m not
saying they didn’t think that, but they never challenged us,
in large part, because we were up 10 to start the game.”
KU will now look to seize the opportunity on Saturday against UNLV and
put two halves together. A victory over Vegas would send the Jayhawks
to the Sweet 16 in Detroit.
Kansas Drops Portland State in NCAA Opener
Phog.net Top Stories
Kansas True Freshman Delivers Big HitKansas Jayhawks true freshman safety Mike Lee delivered a big hit on a Texas Tech runner. Lee came into tonight with four tackles in his young career and he made the fifth one…
Scout CFBYesterday at 7:22 AM
Big 12 Recruiting Notebook (9/29/16)News, notes and recruiting scoop out of the Big 12...
Scout FootballThursday at 8:47 AM
Big 12 Football Roundup: Week 3 Top StoriesAll you need to know about Big 12 teams leading into Week Three of the college football season.
Big 12 Recruiting Notebook (9/15/16)News, notes and recruiting scoop out of the Big 12...