Rushed Reactions: #1 Kansas 85, #2 Duke 81 (OT)

Posted by Walker Carey on March 25th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) is in Omaha for the Midwest Regional this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

Kansas Outlasted Duke to Get Bill Self to His Third Final Four (USA Today Images)

  1. Kansas winning the rebounding battle was surprising and played a huge role in the win. Leading into the game, a lot of the talk about tonight’s Elite Eight match-up was focused on how Kansas was going to have a very difficult time keeping Duke off the glass. It turns out all that talk went for naught, however, as Kansas was the team that dominated the rebounding category. The Jayhawks finished with a 47-32 advantage on the glass while grabbing an amazing 17 offensive rebounds. The most impressive Jayhawk on the glass was senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk, who finished with 10 caroms — and it sure seemed like each one came at huge spots in the game. Sophomore big man Udoka Azubuike battled foul trouble for most of his night, but he still found a way to collect eight boards (five offensive) while freshman reserve forward Silvio De Sousa played 26 important minutes and gathered 10 more rebounds of his own. It was a team effort for the Jayhawks on the glass and that cohesiveness and hard work led to them finishing with such an advantage over what was considered a far superior rebounding team.
  2. Duke’s offensive strategy was perplexing. Kansas is an excellent offensive team but it had struggled throughout the season on the defensive end of the court. A lot of the Jayhawks’ struggle was because the Jayhawks exclusively play four guards and teams with good size could often take advantage. Duke certainly qualifies as a team with more size than Kansas, but the Blue Devils were unable to take advantage of that frontcourt disparity. At no point during the game did it seem like Duke was making a concerted effort to run its offense through its incredibly talented front line. Freshman star forward Marvin Bagley III only finished the game with nine field goal attempts. Fellow freshman big man Wendell Carter Jr. battled foul trouble for much of the game while only attempting nine shots of his own, and sophomore reserve Javin DeLaurier did not appear engaged on the offensive end in his 13 minutes of action. The Duke guards dominated the ball throughout the game, with Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr. finishing with 13, 16 and 18 field goal attempts, respectively. There are no sure things in life or college basketball, but it certainly seems like Duke would be headed to the Final Four instead of Kansas if it had found a way to get Bagley and Carter more involved.
  3. Malik Newman was the best player on the court. Duke was supposed to have all of the stars in this game. Grayson Allen is probably the most famous player in college basketball. Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter, Jr. will both be lottery picks very soon. Trevon Duval and Gary Trent, Jr. arrived in Durham as ballyhooed prospects. The Blue Devils were supposed to have the best player on the court, but it did not turn out like that as Kansas sophomore Malik Newman took on that role from the opening tip to overtime’s final buzzer. Newman finished with a game-high 32 points and it was his three-pointer from the corner with 1:49 remaining that gave the Jayhawks a three-point lead that it would never relinquish.

Player of the Game. Malik Newman, Kansas. The sophomore guard came up time after time again tonight for the Jayhawks. Each time Kansas needed a big shot, it seemed like the transfer Newman came through with the goods. He scored all 13 of the Jayhawks’ points in the overtime period — 32 in total for the night — and he also did an excellent job defensively on Duke’s Grayson Allen. Allen finished his final collegiate game with just 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting. If Kansas wants two more wins in San Antonio, it is going to need this version of Newman to make the trip.

Quotable.

  • “It was disruptive. It prevented our offensive strategy from hitting on all cylinders.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, discussing Wendell Carter Jr.’s battle with foul trouble.
  • “It hurts. We fought, we crawled, we scratched — we did everything we could. But Kansas is a great team, and I have a lot of respect for that team. They came out and did what they were supposed to do.” – Duke forward Wendell Carter, Jr., reflecting on the outcome.
  • “He is one of the most outstanding players to ever play in our program.” – Krzyzewski, noting Grayson Allen‘s spot in Duke lore following the guard’s final collegiate game.
  • “Obviously, I don’t think I could be or we could be more excited or more proud than we are right now. That was an epic game — one of the best ones if not the best I’ve ever been a part of.” – Kansas coach Bill Self, noting his jubilation over the result.
  • “This is why you come to Kansas, to be in games like this, to be in moments like this.” – Kansas guard Malik Newman, recognizing the importance of the moment.
  • “It’s just getting over that hump and it feels unbelievable.” – Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham, acknowledging how sweet the win is considering Kansas lost in the Elite Eight in each of the two previous seasons.

Sights and Sounds. With the game played only a few hours north of Lawrence, the arena tonight was an extremely pro-Kansas crowd. That was never more clear than when Wendell Carter, Jr., fouled out on a questionable blocking call with 2:49 left in the overtime period. While it was a questionable call to the neutral observer, the Kansas faithful were sure it was the correct call and celebrated as if it had just won the Jayhawks the game.

What’s Next. Kansas advances to the Final Four where it will play East Regional champion Villanova in the marquee match-up on Saturday night.

WCarey (279 Posts)


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