Mar 31, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) and forward Kevin Young (4) celebrate after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 64-62 in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
With about 8 minutes left in the game, Kansas trailed by three and after looking like they were barely hanging on all night were just starting to find themselves. I too had just started to find myself. All first half I was on pins and needles and was so nervous I wanted to not move and yet jump around all at once. But at that moment I entered a sort of fan nirvana: I realized that this team had come so far from the team that wasn't talented enough to overcome their indiscipline. They had morphed into a team that can't be put away no matter how large the deficit, no matter how impossible it seems for them to make a shot. At that point I realized that no matter what happened in the next 8 minutes, they were winners for just how far they had come, and we were winners for getting the opportunity to watch them grow.
Watching Kansas in the NCAA tournament is a gut wrenching experience for me, win or lose. It ties my stomach in knots, and when that clock hit all zeroes I couldn't have been more excited to have 40 more minutes of it on Monday night. This group has gone out and earned it more than any team I can remember, and they deserve one more game. Let's hope they make it count.
Before the game I mentioned that Kansas's offensive rebounding would be huge. Due to their poor shooting they needed to get second chance points as much as possible. The only problem was that Ohio State was the 2nd best defensive rebounding team in the country, allowing opponents to grab only about 25% of their misses. Kansas, however, grabbed an astonishing 37.5% of their own misses.
Ohio State won the three point lottery a bit in the first half - particularly Buford and Craft who were 3-5 and 2-3 for the game respectively - but cooled off in the second half, allowing Kansas to come back. Meanwhile, Kansas continues to struggle from the three, as they shot just 27.3% from beyond the arc.
If there's one thing Kansas needs to shore up for Monday it is the turnover battle: they forced turnovers on just 17.9% of Ohio State's possessions and turned it over on over a fourth of their possessions. Fortunately Kentucky's defense doesn't depend on forcing turnovers, so they probably will see their turnover rate dip down around 20%.
KU's nation best two point defense held the Buckeyes to just 32.4% shooting from two, lowering KU's season rate to 39.8% allowed. They'll face the second best two point defense, just decimal points behind, on Monday.
- Thomas Robinson struggled early, but rebounded to finish with a good 8-18 showing from the field and 3-6 from the line. He also grabbed 8 rebounds, including 3 offensive.
- Tyshawn Taylor still hasn't made a three, but he did make all 4 of his free throws, including two key ones at the end of the game. He also had a game high 9 assists, and was the only player who had more than 3, though he did turn it over 5 times.
- Jeff Withey had just 4 points, but impacted the game in a huge way, grabbing 8 rebounds and blocking 7 shots.
- Elijah Johnson was 5-6 from two and 1-3 from three for 13 points, and he also grabbed 10 rebounds. Get on the Elijah for 2013 Big 12 POY now.
- Travis Releford led all scorers with 15, and he was very efficient, going 4-6 from two and making his only three. He also made all 4 of his free throws and grabbed 6 rebounds.
- Conner Teahan made a gigantic three to cut the Ohio State lead in half with just over 8 to go in the game, and had 2 assists and 0 turnovers. He also continued his defensive improvement.
- Kevin Young didn't score, but provided tremendous energy off the bench, grabbing 5 rebounds, including a team high 4 offensive rebounds.