Kansas Basketball Ends Season With 71-61 Loss To VCU

March 27, 2011

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Kansas, the nation’s leading field goal percentage team, suffered through its worst shooting game of the season and fell one game shy of reaching its 14th all-time NCAA Final Four, as the Jayhawks lost to Virginia Commonwealth, 71-61 Sunday afternoon.

VCU, the No. 11 seed in the Southwest Region, became the third double-digit seed in history to reach the Final Four, as the Rams handed Kansas just its third loss of the season. Kansas finished the year with a 35-3 record, tying for its second-most wins in school history.

VCU improved to 28-11 and will meet No. 9 seed Butler in one semifinal Saturday. Connecticut will play the winner of the North Carolina vs. Kentucky game in the other semifinal. The national championship game is set for the following Monday night.

Trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half, Kansas mounted a comeback in the second period. The Jayhawks got within two points at 46-44 with 13:11 to play, but VCU never surrendered its lead.

Kansas, which shot just 35.5 percent from the field, was led by Marcus Morris, who scored 20 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, Tyshawn Taylor, who added 14 points on six of nine shooting, and Markieff Morris, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds, but also had eight turnovers.

The Jayhawks’ shooting woes extended to the three-point line and the free throw line. KU made just two of 21 three-point attempts and was just 15 of 28 from the free throw line.

Meanwhile, VCU made just 39.6 percent of its shots, but drilled 12 of 25 three-pointers and converted 17 of 22 free throw attempts. Jamie Skeen was the leader for the Rams, scoring a game-high 26 points.

After a miserable first half, Kansas made a strong second-half comeback. Trailing 41-27 at the break, KU found itself down 43-27 just into the final 20 minutes. KU then took control of the game for the next five minutes, hitting all six of its field goal attempts in a 12-0 run, which saw Taylor score six points.

That got KU within 43-39. After three points by VCU, KU continued its charge scoring the next five points, which cumulated with Taylor’s three-point play which got KU with 46-44 at the 13:11 mark.

With the momentum changing, VCU appeared unsteady. However, the Rams righted themselves and increased their lead to 57-47 after a Skeen dunk at the 8:51 mark. KU got within five after that, but could get no closer as the Rams went on to the upset.

The first half was dominated by the 11th-seeded Rams, who had already won four NCAA Tournament games, including one of the additional play-in games, before meeting the Jayhawks.

KU scored the first six points of the game. VCU responded by outscoring the Jayhawks 20-4 to gain a 20-10 lead. KU went six and one half minutes with just one field goal as it saw its 8-5 lead turn into the 20-10 deficit.

The Rams kept up the pace all half, leading by as much as 18 (39-21) en route to a 41-27 advantage at the break.

The Jayhawks struggled offensively as they turned the ball over eight times. When they were getting shots, they weren’t going in. The Morris twins, who combined for all of KU’s 19 points in the first 15 minutes of the game, hit eight of 19 shots in the first period, while the rest of the team made just two of 13 shots

KU made just 31 percent from the field, including two of 11 from three-point range and just five of 12 from the free throw line in the first half. Meanwhile VCU made just 41 percent of its shots, but its nine of 16 mark from three-point range made the difference.

Josh Selby became the first non-Morris to score for KU when he hit a jumper at the 4:21 mark, which brought KU within 36-21. VCU then hit its third straight three-pointer to gain its biggest lead at that point to 39-21.

After the game Marcus Morris was named to the all-region team, along with four players from Virginia Commonwealth.