Monday, March 31, 2008

GOLIATH GETS EVEN

Kansas wore down Stephen Curry and plucky upstart Davidson with its size and strength, holding on for a 59-57 victory Sunday. It wasn't easy.

After Kansas' Sherron Collins missed with 21 seconds left, the 10th-seeded Wildcats got one last chance. Curry was double-teamed, could not get off a shot and was forced to pass to Jason Richards, whose 25-footer from the top of the key thudded off the backboard. Richards dropped to his back at midcourt while the Jayhawks celebrated with a measure of relief.

Kansas (35-3) moved on to play overall No. 1 seed North Carolina -- and former coach Roy Williams.

Curry, who became only the fourth player to hit the 30-point mark in his first four NCAA tournament games, finished with 25 on 9-of-25 shooting and was picked Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Regional. His roommate, Bryant Barr, was the only other Davidson player in double figures, scoring all 11 of his points in the second half.

The loss snapped Davidson's 25-game winning streak, longest in the nation.

Sasha Kaun came up with big baskets down the stretch whenever the Jayhawks needed them, and he and Chalmers scored 13 for Kansas, which ended the feel-good story of the tournament. Davidson, trying to become only the third double-digit to make the Final Four, simply ran out of gas in the stretch.

After making improbable shots all tournament, Davidson could not get the one it needed most.

"They had a lot of bodies and a lot of athletic guys who could chase me," Curry said. "They did make me work hard, and I had good looks at the end, but they weren't falling like they did all tournament. We can't hang our heads. We had opportunities. We just didn't execute."

Though they fell short of the Final Four, the Wildcats (29-3) have nothing to be ashamed of. They hung with the toughest teams in the nation -- Georgetown and Wisconsin had two of the stingiest defenses in the country -- and gave little Davidson something to be known for besides providing free laundry to its students. The Wildcats left the floor to applause from a fan club that's gotten a lot bigger over the last two weeks.

"We made history for our school," Curry said. "Not a lot of people expected a lot from us, so I'm proud of what we have accomplished, but it hurts a lot to have been this close to the Final Four."

This is Kansas' Jayhawks' 13th trip to the Final Four, but its first since 2003 -- Williams' final season. He took the Jayhawks to the championship game -- they lost to Syracuse -- then left for his alma mater.

"Everyone knows he used to coach for KU," Collins said. "There will be a lot of emotion and a lot of heat for that game."

Mario Chalmers #15 and Sherron Collins #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrate their 59-57 win against the Davidson Wildcats during the Midwest Regional Final of the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Ford Field on March 30, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Sherron Collins #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks controls a loose ball against Jason Richards #2 of the Davidson Wildcats as Cole Aldrich #45 of Kansas looks on during the Midwest Regional Final. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Stephen Curry #30 of the Davidson Wildcats looks to drives against Russell Robinson #3 of the Kansas Jayhawks during the Midwest Regional Final. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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