Three Key Takeaways.
- Sticking Around. It felt like Purdue was going to win this game throughout the evening, but the Jayhawks stuck around. Kansas shot 29.4% in the first half and they were lucky to be only down by six points at halftime. In the second half the shooting woes hit Purdue down the stretch where the Boilermakers only shot 28.6% in the second half to allow KU back into it. Through the final three minutes, Purdue had some real struggles to run its offense. It was the Kansas defense that forced turnovers in the final possessions. Defense, so they say, wins championships (or at least third round defensive battles).
- Robinson shut down. The Boilermakers did everything they could to keep Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson out of the game. He was absent for most the game only having a single point at halftime and shooting 1-of-5 from the field. Robinson ended up with a double-double –11 points and 13 rebounds — but he had to earn every single one of them. Most of it came from the free throw line where he went 7-of-11 from the charity stripe. On the opposite end he finished 2-of-12 from the field. Still, Robinson recorded his 25th double-double this season, tying the school record held by Drew Gooden.
- Hummel-ized. Purdue needed a big game from Robbie Hummel if it wanted a chance to win the game tonight and he provided one, though a big share of it came in the first half. Hummel had 22 points before halftime on 7-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-6 from three including a shot clock buzzer-beater from downtown Omaha. Kansas did a good job containing him in the second half, but down the stretch, the Boilermakers went back to Hummel and he hit a couple more key baskets He ran out of gas in the final minute when Purdue needed a score, though, thanks to Kansas’ suffocating defense. He finished with a game-high 26 points. The loss was a sad way to end his career after making his way back from two devastating knee injuries.
Star of the Game. Elijah Johnson, Kansas. With Thomas Robinson basically ineffective in the scoring column, Johnson helped drive the Kansas comeback scoring 13 of his 18 points in the second half, including the basket to lead the Jayhawks to the win. He also was 3-of-8 from behind the arc.
Quotable. “I don’t think he has a McDonald’s All-American on his team so give Bill Self some credit.” – Purdue head coach Matt Painter on recruiting a player to Purdue.
Sights & Sounds. When you get to the NCAA Tournament, the game tonight between the Jayhawks and Boilermakers is exactly what you are looking for in March Madness. It was a full arena with teams battling each other from the beginning to the end, and fans and bands creating a great atmosphere. With the announced crowd of almost 17,000 in the arena, the game was made even more special. It was a great way to end Omaha’s weekend of hosting. The event should eventually make its way back to Omaha, where it’ll find a hyped up crowd ready to support the Tourney.
What’s Next?. Kansas now heads to St. Louis to the Sweet Sixteen for a date with North Carolina State next week. Although the Jayhawks are the #2 seed in the region, many see the Jayhawks as a favorite over the #1 North Carolina Tar Heels due to Kendall Marshall’s injury and the proximity of St. Louis to the KU campus.