KU continues to dance as the Jayhawks held off a huge second half Clemson rally and pulled out an 80-76 victory in the Sweet 16.
The Jayhawks would open up the game with an 11-4 run to start, capped by a Malik Newman layup with 15:37 to go until the half. Clemson would scrape back into it, though, pulling to within 20-19 on a Mark Donnal dunk with 8:38 to go. However, Kansas jumped on a 15-3 run and coasted into halftime with a 40-27 lead.
Kansas continued to apply pressure early in the second half. The Jayhawks opened the half on a 9-2 run, and would eventually build a 20-point, 62-42 lead with 12:01 to go. But Clemson’s comeback would be slow and methodical. The Jayhawks still had an 11-point, 74-63 lead with just 2:43 to go, but foul trouble was mounting on Devonte Graham and Udoka Azubuike. Doke eventually fouled out a few seconds later, with just 2:30 to play, and KU continued to act like they’d never seen a full court press or a half-court trap before.
Fortunately for the Jayhawks, Clemson did not have a Trey Burke impersonator on their team. The Tigers pulled to within 77-72 with 19 seconds left, but KU was able to make just enough free throws to keep the game out of reach and advance to the Elite 8 by an 80-76 final score.
Devonte Graham really struggled (again) in this one. Even though he had 16 points, it came on 4-12 shooting while dishing out just 4 assists vs 3 turnovers. D’Tae added 5 rebounds for good measure.
The Tigers really had no answer for Udoka Azubuike down low, as the big guy abused Clemson’s interior for 14 points on 7-9 shooting, with 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. He did have an issue with fouls; while a couple of the foul calls were questionable (at best), he also had some silly fouls where he should have known better.
Clemson’s Gabe DeVoe had a career-high 31 points on 10-17 shooting. DeVoe made some amazing shots, and really played the game of his life. If he had just a little more help, Clemson may have been able to knock off Kansas.
The magic 40 number strikes again, as Kansas hit 10-23 three-pointers (43.5%) and held Clemson to rebounding 37.8% of their misses.
Up next, the Jayhawks will await the winner of Duke-Syracuse on Sunday, March 25, time TBD, for a bid to the Final Four in San Antonio.