Saturday, March 24, 2012

Kansas Quells Fourth UNC v. N.C. State Matchup

LESLIE (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Kansas 60, N.C. STATE 57 -- Looking to get back to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986 and face rival North Carolina for a fourth time this season, N.C. State came up short against the second-seeded Jayhawks in last night’s Midwest Regional semifinal.

The Wolfpack (24-13) went from one of the last at-large teams in the NCAA tournament field to the Sweet 16, prompting first year head coach Mark Gottfiried to say, "I'm not sure I can be more proud than I am of our team. This team learned how to compete and keep fighting and they did it again today. We just came up a little bit short."

For much of the game it looked like Kansas (30-6) might be making the “proud of” speech at game's end having shot 37% from the field and making just one of 14 from behind the arc.  The Jayhawks scored just two baskets in the final 7 minutes, 10 seconds of the game.  But N.C. State’s shooting touch was worse at 28.4%, but six three-pointers did keep them in the hunt.

ROBINSON (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
"We haven't been a picture-perfect team all season," Kansas head coach Bill Self said later, "but that's one thing that's exciting. The guys take pride in not being perfect. They take pride in winning ugly."

The Wolfpack had some ugly of their own.

The Pack pulled within 58-57 on a transition layup by C.J. Williams with just over a minute remaining. The teams swapped possessions before Kansas managed to get a layup from Elijah Johnson off an inbound pass from Taylor with 13.5 seconds left.

The Wolfpack crossed midcourt and called a timeout to set up a play, which was designed to get the ball to Wood off a baseline pass. Instead, a skip pass went high and the sharpshooter stepped out of bounds trying to pull it in, giving the ball back to Kansas with 5 seconds to go.

In addition, N.C. State had four other chances in the final minute to either take the lead or force an overtime. 

Richard Howell's contested three-pointer at the buzzer fell short and Scott Wood (12 points) missed from the top of the key with 20 seconds left. Down 58-57, C.J. Leslie (18 points) grabbed Wood's miss and drove to the basket but Kansas center Jeff Withey, who blocked 10 shots, altered Leslie's attempt.

WOOD (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
It simply wasn’t meant to be...

Howell had a tough night shooting 2 for 12 from the field and scoring just 2 points.  C.J. Williamas and Lorenzo Brown scored 10 each for N.C. State.

The victory gives Kansas a rematch of their 2008 National Semifinal against their former coach of 15 seasons.  

Thomas Robinson led the Jayhawks with 18 points and 15 rebounds.  Star point guard Tyshawn Taylor had 8 points on 2 for 20 shooting.

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