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.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Virginia got a very skilled guard in the 2016 class.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
Florida landed an in-state Class of 2015 wing to make it a four-man class.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
Memphis found a 2016 guard to join center Nick Marshall in the recruiting class.
Oct 20, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
SMU could be in trouble if a second-team all-league pick is ruled ineligible.
Oct 20, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
News and notes from the world of college basketball recruiting.
Oct 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Lorenzo Romar now has a six-man recruiting class for 2015.
Oct 20, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Oklahoma has a chance to be the second-best team in the Big 12, especially if a key player receives a waiver.
Oct 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
The Hawks will have a thin front court this season.
Oct 20, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Five new hires that should thrive, and five who may end up struggling.
Oct 20, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
Stevie Clark was dismissed from Oklahoma State after a pair of bizarre incidents involving the police.
Oct 20, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Chris Walker sounds pretty funny.
Oct 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
Jaylen Brantley is Maryland’s first commitment in the class.
Oct 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
After riding the coattails of a pair of Californians, Weber State’s focus on recruiting the state of Texas will pay off this season.
Oct 20, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT
Thon Maker has another mixtape out.
Oct 20, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT
Mudiay has now played two preseason games as a professional.
Oct 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Weber State will be the preseason favorites, but Northern Arizona, Sacramento State and Eastern Washington will lead a group of challengers capable of pushing the reigning champs.
Oct 19, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT
Junior forward Mark Tollefsen may be one of the best dunkers in America.
Oct 19, 2014, 8:49 PM EDT
Chris Jones’ three-pointer in the final seconds gave the White team a 75-72 win over the Red.
Oct 19, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT
Evan Smotrycz was re-evaluated Saturday after suffering the injury at the end of practice Friday.
Oct 19, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT
Johnson last played in live action on January 11, when he suffered a torn ACL in the Panthers’ loss to Virginia.
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