No. 1 Kansas Punches Ticket to Sweet 16, Defeating UConn 73-61
DES MOINES, Iowa – Top-ranked Kansas won its 16th-straight game to clinch a spot in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen® with a 73-61 victory over Connecticut on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., poured in a game-high 22 points, including a monstrous alley-oop dunk in the final moments that put an exclamation point on KU’s victory. Junior forward Landen Lucas manned the paint with authority from start to finish and ended with 12 rebounds.
On a night when Perry Ellis entered the top-10 of KU’s career scoring list, the senior All-American reached his sixth 20-point effort in the last seven games. Ellis finished with 21 points to pass Kirk Hinrich on the program’s elite list of all-time greats.
UConn (25-11), which entered Saturday ranked fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense and 13th in scoring defense, allowed 73 points on 49 percent shooting from the Jayhawks. Senior guard Sterling Gibbs led UConn with 20 points, including four 3-pointers.
Kansas (32-4) advances to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen®for the31st time to face the winner of No. 5 seed Maryland and No. 13 seed Hawai’i on Thursday, March 24 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Maryland and Hawai’i play in the second round on Sunday at 6:10 p.m. Central time on TBS.
The third all-time meeting between the programs that combine for seven NCAA titles started out with a 5-5 tie, but the Jayhawks separated with a 15-0 run that included four 3-pointers – two from sophomore Devonte’ Graham – during a five-minute span that gave KU an 18-5 lead at the 14:04 mark of the opening period.
UConn cut its deficit to five, 21-16, 10 minutes before halftime. But Kansas ramped-up its defense down the stretch to give the Huskies its largest halftime deficit of the season (20 points). Kansas held UConn to 4-of-23 shooting, including a 19-0 KU run where UConn missed 12-straight shots, during the final 10 minutes of the first half before going into the break with a 44-24 lead.
We were really, really, really good the first half,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “I thought both ends we defended, we rebounded, we put pressure on the defense, and of course it helps when you make shots. But that was good first half.”
Ellis, despite a roughed-up knee he had to tend to early in the game, led the Jayhawks in the first half with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a 3-pointer at the 4:08 mark which gave KU a 38-16 lead and officially put him in the top-10 of KU’s all-time scoring list.
UConn came out of the locker room with resolve to not lose its first NCAA tournament game under Kevin Ollie. The Huskies took advantage of KU’s sluggish offensive start – missing 10 of its first 12 second-half shots – to slowly chip its deficit back to single-digits with 9:33 remaining.
Leading scorer Selden stepped up late by scoring eight of his 23 in the final nine minutes to protect KU’s bid for a Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the junior’s career.
KU’s steady front court of Graham and Frank Mason III teamed up to go 6-for-6 in the final 1:15 of regulation to put the game on ice.
UP NEXT: NCAA SWEET SIXTEEN®
Kansas advances to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen®for the31st time to face the winner of No. 5 seed Maryland and No. 13 seed Hawai’i on Thursday, March 24 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Maryland and Hawai’i play in the second round on Sunday at 6:10 p.m. Central time on TBS.
STARTERS (Season Starts / Career Starts)
Jr. G Frank Mason III (36/75), So. G Devonte’ Graham (34/34), Jr. G Wayne Selden Jr. (35/106), Sr. F Perry Ellis (36/107), Jr. F Landen Lucas (17/31)… 17th time this combination has started a game (15-1 record).
Kansas leads the series with Connecticut, 3-0. Including Saturday’s matchup, all three series meetings have been on a neutral floor. KU defeated UConn, 88-59, on Jan. 28, 1995 in Kansas City, Missouri. Two seasons later the Jayhawks defeated the Huskies, 73-65, in Hartford, Connecticut.
16,824 (Wells Fargo Center)… In 20 games away from Allen Fieldhouse this season, Kansas has drawn near-capacity crowds every time, filling up arenas with a 98 percent capacity average including Saturday’s sellout crowd in Des Moines… All 17 home games at Allen Fieldhouse were sold out.
• NO SECOND-CHANCES: Kansas held UConn to zero second-chance points while out-rebounding the Huskies 44 to 24. It is the first time this season KU has denied its opponent any second-chance buckets. The Jayhawks plus-20 rebounding margin is the largest since out-rebounding TCU 46-25 ( 21) on Feb. 6.
• SHARP SHOOTING: Kansasshot 49 percent against a UConn defense that ranked fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense.
• BLOCK-LESS: Kansas opponents went five halves without recording a block of a Jayhawk shot. UConn’s first block was by Shonn Miller in the second half. Baylor’s Taurean Prince was the last player to block a KU shot before Saturday, doing so at the 8:46 mark of the second half in the Big 12 Championship semifinals on March 11.
• HOW SWEET IT IS: Kansas advances to its 31st Sweet 16 and its eighth under Bill Self.
• PILING UP VICTORIES: Kansas (32-4) reaches 32 wins for the 10th time in school history with six of those during the Bill Self era. The Jayhawks have the most wins (32) and the highest winning percentage (.889) of all 351 NCAA Division I teams.
• WINNING STREAK: Kansas extends its winning streak to 16 games, its longest of the season. It is the second-longest active winning streak in NCAA Division I to Northern Iowa (21). KU also had a 13-game winning streak earlier this season (Nov. 23 – Jan. 9). KU features 14 winning streaks of 10 games or better during the Bill Self era.
• IN THE NCAA TOURNEY: Kansas is 99-43 all-time in NCAA Championship games. KU is 22-10 in its second games played in the NCAA Championship. Kansas improves to 31-10 all-time in its 12th appearance as a No. 1 seed.
• AWAY FROM HOME: KU is 16-4 away from Allen Fieldhouse this season. The Jayhawks have won six-straight neutral-site games, not including the Dec. 12 win over Oregon State at Sprint Center in Kansas City, which was deemed a home game by the NCAA.
• W-L RECORDS: Bill Self improves to 384-82 (.824) while at Kansas, 591-187 (.759) all-time and 39-16 (.731) in the NCAA Tournament (29-11 while at KU). Kansas is now 2,185-835 all-time.
• FIRST NCAA LOSS: The Jayhawks give UConn its first NCAA Championship loss under head coach Kevin Ollie. In four seasons with the Huskies, Ollie has made two NCAA postseason appearances. UConn was ineligible for postseason play his first season (2013), won the 2014 NCAA title his second season, and played in the NIT last season.
• FREE THROWS: UConn entered Saturday as the national leader in free throw percentage (.793). UConn was held to just 11 attempts at the charity stripe on Saturday (9-for-11).
• DEFENSE: Kansas scored 73 points on 49.0 percent shooting against UConn. The Huskies entered Saturday ranked fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.383). and 13th in scoring defense (63.2 ppg allowed).
• LIVING BY THE TREY: UConn made 10 3-pointers and 11 2-point field goals, going 21-for-62 (.339) from the field and 10-for-22 (.455) from 3-point range.
INDIVIDUAL NOTES (By number, starters listed first)
• #0 FRANK MASON III (Jr., G): Went 6-for-6 at the free throw line and is now 11-for-12 at the charity stripe during NCAA postseason play this season.
• #1 WAYNE SELDEN JR. (Jr., G): After a 22-point effort on Saturday, Selden is averaging 18.0 points during the NCAA Championship this season. He entered the postseason with 10 total points in his first four NCAA postseason games.
• #4 DEVONTE’ GRAHAM (So., G): One of three Jayhawks in double-figure points, scoring 13 on 4-of-8 shooting.
• #33 LANDEN LUCAS (Jr., F): Grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds with three blocks as KU’s biggest force in holding UConn to zero second-chance points.
• #34 PERRY ELLIS (Sr., F): Now has 1,767 career points to enter the top-10 on KU’s all-time scoring list. Ellis passed Kirk Hinrich (2000-03; 1,753) with a 3-pointer at the 4:08 mark of the first half, which gave KU a 38-16 lead. Has six 20-point scoring efforts in the last seven games. Totals 100 points in five postseason games this season (20.0 ppg) on 60.7 percent shooting from the field during five postseason games.
• #31 JAMARI TRAYLOR (Sr., F): Recorded three blocks and now totals 125 career blocks.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.