Hot-shooting Tigers down Jayhawks, 89-75
SALT LAKE CITY – Nine Auburn 3-pointers and a 56 percent shooting clip in the first half was too much for the Jayhawks to overcome as the No. 5 seed Tigers topped No. 4 seed Kansas, 89-75, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night inside Vivint Smart Home Arena. Kansas was led by redshirt-junior forward Dedric Lawson, who tallied his 22nd double-double of the year via a 25-point, 10-rebound performance.
Kansas’ season ended at 26-10 as the Jayhawks failed to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015. Auburn moved to 28-9 in its 2018-19 campaign.
The Tigers came out of the gates on fire from beyond the arc, connecting on six triples before eight minutes could come off the clock. The Auburn defense made it tough for the Jayhawks to keep pace during the early run, forcing five turnovers and limiting KU to just four field goals in that same span. The Tigers’ Jared Harper swished one of his team’s nine first-half 3-pointers with 12:05 to play in the frame and got his team out to a 28-11 early advantage.
Lawson and Devon Dotson converted on five free throws while the Jayhawks momentarily silenced the AU shooters to get their deficit down to 14 points, 34-20, with less than eight minutes to go in the opening frame. The Tigers responded and quickly snuffed out any KU momentum. Auburn converted on back-to-back triples to get its lead to 20 points for the first time on the night.
Those two buckets ignited another AU run prior to halftime. Chuma Okeke’s lay-up with 5:13 before the break kick started an 11-2 Tiger stretch to close the half and Auburn headed to the locker room with a 51-25 edge. It marked the Jayhawks’ largest halftime deficit in a NCAA Tournament game.
Kansas came out of the intermission intent on getting back into the game. KU hit each of its first seven shots, scoring 16 points within the first four minutes following the restart. But the Tigers started the half just as efficient, hitting their first six tries from the field to hang onto its 20-plus point edge.
Lawson and Quentin Grimes tallied six points during an 8-1 KU run that got the Jayhawks to within 18 points with 14 minutes to go in regulation, but as they did all night, the Tigers once again had an answer.
Bryce Brown’s hot hand struck again with his seventh 3-pointer of the night to start a 9-0 Auburn spirt that got the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 76-49, still with more than 12 minutes to go in regulation.
Despite the Tiger’s continued responses, the Jayhawks didn’t give up. Lawson scored 12 points during a stretch that saw the Jayhawks outscore the No. 5 seed 21-7, helping KU got its deficit down to 13 points, 85-72. But the run came too late as only 90 seconds remained in regulation. Auburn managed to hold off the Jayhawks from there, sealing the 89-75 victory.
Lawson closed the night leading the Jayhawks in scoring for the 21st time on the season and tallied his 21st double-double in the process. The Memphis product notched 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to post the third-most double-doubles in a single season by a Jayhawk. Quentin Grimes went 5-of-11 from the field en route to a 15-point performance and fellow freshman Dotson added 13 points. Freshman forward David McCormack rounded out KU’s double-figure scorers with 11 points to go along with six rebounds.
The Tigers ended the night shooting 52.5 percent (32-61) from the field. It was just the second time a KU opponent shot better than 50 percent on the year. The Jayhawks hit 59.4 percent (19-32) of its shots in the second half and outscored Auburn 50-38 in the second half. That number included a 5-of-9 clip from 3-point range.
QUOTES – Full Quotes
Head coach Bill Self
“Obviously, we’re disappointed in how we played. But also how we played shouldn’t take away from how great Auburn played. They were fantastic. We hadn’t seen an onslaught like that all year, in the first ten minutes of the game. And they rattled us and we didn’t respond very well. I’m proud of our kids, we hung in there second half and didn’t get a lot of stops. We did play better second half. We just didn’t have enough ammunition to fight off what they threw at us early.”
His thoughts on the season:
“The thing about it is, it’s been a challenging year. I thought the kids hung in there and did a great job, for the most part. Their attitudes and everything was terrific. And we didn’t muster up enough momentum like some past teams have to probably go on a run like other teams have. But being a four-seed in the tournament, and so much of the tournament is match-ups, as much as anything. And I got to be honest with you, when I saw Auburn as the five in our bracket, I’m going, I just watched them play and they’re fast and those are the teams we obviously struggle the most against.”
NOTABLES – Full Notes
- The loss Gave the Jayhawks 10 losses in a season for just the second time in Bill Self’s 16-year tenure in Lawrence with the other in 2014.
- The loss also ended a Kansas three-straight second-round NCAA Tournament win streak which started in 2016.
- KU is now 8-5 all-time as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament
- After Kansas jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Auburn went on a 20-7 run to take a 20-9 lead with 14:04 remaining in the first half. The Jayhawks would be unable to get within 10 for the remainder of the game.
- Auburn’s Bryce Brown hit five first-half threes, the most by a KU opponent in a half since Sam Hauser made five for Marquette in the first half on November 21, 2018.
- Brown finished the night going 7-of-11 from deep, marking the most makes from 3-point range by an opponent since Deonte Burton hit seven for Iowa State on February 4, 2017.
- The Tigers nine makes from deep in the first half were the most by a Jayhawk opponent since Texas Tech hit nine in the first half on February 23, 2019.
- Kansas trailed 51-26 at the half marking its largest halftime deficit in a NCAA Tournament game.
- KU’s 75 points were its fewest in a NCAA Tournament game since an Elite 8 loss against Oregon on March 25, 2017 in which Kansas was held to 60 points.
- Auburn outscored Kansas 34-8 in fast break points, the most scored by a KU opponent this season and KU’s largest deficit in that category.
- The Tigers became the second team to shoot 50 percent or better against Kansas this season. The Jayhawks are 0-2 in those games and 7-25 in the Self era.
- RS-Junior forward Dedric Lawson finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds for his 22nd double-double of the season and 58th of his career. Lawson sits alone in third place all-time for double-doubles in a single season. Lawson’s 22 DDs marked the most by a Jayhawk since Thomas Robinson tallied 27 in 2012.
- Lawson’s 10 rebounds moved Lawson past Wilt Chamberlain who tallied 367 rebounds in 1958 for eighth all-time in rebounds in a single season as Lawson’s grabbed 371 rebounds this year.
- Freshman guard Devon Dotson’s three assists tied him with Mario Chalmers who dished 127 assists in 2006 for fifth all-time assists in a single season by a freshman.
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