Mar 31, 2012, 11:26 PM EDT
Thanks to a fast start to the second half the Kansas Jayhawks find themselves one win away from a national title few thought they could win back in October.
Thomas Robinson scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but once again the play of Elijah Johnson was a key factor in a Kansas victory.
Johnson scored 13 points and grabbed ten rebounds to help lead the Jayhawks past No. 2 seed Ohio State 64-62 in the second semifinal in New Orleans.
Ohio State led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but foul trouble for Deshaun Thomas led to offensive struggles for the East Region champions.
The reward for the Jayhawks is a match-up with top overall seed Kentucky on Monday night.
“Well, it’s kind of a tale of two halves, two games,” said Kansas head coach Bill Self. “The light came on and then we were much more aggressive the second half.
“They missed some shots, we controlled the glass, were able to play through our bigs, get out and run. The biggest thing is we got stops and rebounded.”
Johnson wasn’t the only “unsung” hero for Kansas however, as Travis Releford also made some key plays during the second half.
Releford finished with 15 points, making 5 of 7 shots from the field, and grabbing six rebounds.
William Buford led Ohio State with 19 points and seven rebounds but Jared Sullinger struggled with the length of 7-footer Jeff Withey (seven blocked shots), shooting 5 of 19 from the field and scoring 13 points.
“My teammates definitely look at me and see me as a protector. They know if they get beat, I’m there,” said Withey. “I’m there to help them block shots. When I blocked Jared, I was standing straight up. I guess my length bothered him.”
The Buckeyes did themselves in with poor shot selection, with 23 of their 59 field goals being attempted beyond the arc (making eight).
Down two in the final seconds, Ohio State guard Aaron Craft attempted to rebound his own intentional miss but was called for a lane violation.
According to the NCAA rule book a shooter cannot cross the vertical plane of the foul line before the ball hits the rim. Therefore the correct call was made. A quick in-bounds pass later it was Kansas advancing to the title game.
As a team the Buckeyes shot 33.3 percent inside of the arc, compared to Kansas making 48.9 percent of its 2-point shots. The win sets up a rematch of the November 15 meeting in New York, which Kentucky won 75-65.
The Wildcats shot 64 percent from the field in the second half of that contest, winning despite turning the ball over 19 times.
But the Johnson, Releford and Withey they’ll encounter on Monday are much different from the players Kentucky saw on that night.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:43 AM EDT
In less than 36 months, Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello has taken the Jaspers from 6-25 to the NCAA tournament.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT
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Mar 10, 2014, 10:47 PM EDT
Cameron Bairstow spent his offseason toiling in international competition, and return to New Mexico with a chip on his shoulder. After a season spent toying with the other Mountain West frontcourts, Bairstow’s efforts might not get the necessary recognition.
Mar 10, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT
Highlights of Delaware’s win in the CAA title game, as seen on the NBC Sports Network.
Mar 10, 2014, 9:56 PM EDT
Get to know the sixth entry into the 2014 NCAA Tournament field, the Delaware Blue Hens.
Mar 10, 2014, 9:43 PM EDT
Get to know the fifth entry into the 2014 NCAA Tournament field, the Manhattan Jaspers
Mar 10, 2014, 9:26 PM EDT
Joel Embiid will miss the Big 12 tournament and likely will be out for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. What does this mean for Kansas?
Mar 10, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
This is great. The bench mob for the Colby College Mules has extensive choreographed sideline celebrations. Their best is the “El Toro Tres Puntos”. Without a doubt. (h/t Colby’s finest)
Mar 10, 2014, 6:53 PM EDT
Louisiana Tech is fighting to stay on top of Conference USA after four teams tied atop the league standings with a 13-3 record during the regular season.
Mar 10, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
The CAA Tournament title will take be played in Baltimore on Monday evening. League champ Delaware will square off with Williams & Mary, who is looking to make their first ever trip to the NCAA tournament. The game will tip off at roughly 7:00 p.m. You can watch the game live on NBC Sports Live Extra. WATCH…
Mar 10, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT
UConn’s Shabazz Napier elevates the conversation for the American Athletic Conference’s player of the year discussion.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:57 PM EDT
Despite an arrest for a driving under the influence charge, Oregon State’s Langston Morris-Walker will play in the Pac-12 tournament, and his addition means the Beavers are the conference’s ultimate sleeper pick for a tourney title.
Mar 10, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT
Jason Capel was reportedly fired today, which may put one of the best available class of 2014 recruits on the market again
Mar 10, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT
Joel Embiid has missed the last two games, and Bill Self shines some light on when the center will next play.
Mar 10, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT
What do you expect from a conference that could feature eight NCAA tournament teams?
Mar 10, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT
Creighton and Villanova are the Big East’s two darlings, but which other teams are best positioned to separate themselves from the conference’s middle and earn a bid?
Mar 10, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT
MAAC, CAA and Southern all at stake tonight.
Mar 10, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT
Justin Bieber and Rick Barnes! I shouldn’t have to say more.
Mar 10, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and All-Conference teams for every league in the country.
Mar 10, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
Regular season champion Southern’s ineligible for the NCAA tournament, which could open the door for Texas Southern to grab the league’s automatic bid.
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