In a game that was every bit as close as the final score indicated, Kansas knocked off Duke 85-81 in overtime in the Elite 8 to advance to the program’s first Final Four since 2012.
The game started off slowly, with no one scoring until KU’s Udoka Azubuike put the ball through the hoop for the first time with 18:09 on the clock. Duke would lead for most of the first half, finally getting a four-point, 25-21 lead with 6:18 to play on a Gary Trent Jr jumper. The Jayhawks quickly tied it up but Duke would end up with a three-point lead at the break, 36-33.
Kansas quickly asserted itself in the second half, starting out on a 12-3 run. KU’s seven-point lead at 48-41 would be the largest lead by either team in the entire game. Duke stormed back, tying the game at 57-all on a Marvin Bagley layup. Kansas took a five-point lead at 62-57 on a Svi Mykhailiuk layup with 8:00 to go, but the game was far from over.
After Duke took a 64-62 lead on a Gary Trent Jr three, the score went back and forth multiple times. A pair of Grayson Allen free throws gave Duke a 72-69 lead with 1:25 to go. A rushed three-pointer by Malik Newman missed, but the Jayhawks held on defense. A Svi three from the wing tied the game up with 27 seconds to go.
With two timeouts in his pocket, Coach K elected not to use a timeout. Grayson Allen kept the ball, looking for a three, and eventually driving. His shot rimmed out - it was THAT close - and we went into overtime tied at 72.
The overtime period was just as intense as the rest of the game. A Malik Newman jumper with 1:51 left gave KU an 81-78 lead. The teams exchanged some empty possessions. When Silvio de Sousa pulled down a Trevon Duval rebound with 37 seconds left, Duke had to foul. Malik Newman iced two free throws, Duke missed a couple of threes, Malik Newman made a couple more free throws, and when Grayson Allen’s last second three went through the net, it didn’t matter and Kansas emerged with the 85-81 victory.
There were 11 ties and 18 lead changes during the contest. Duke led for 21:17, KU for 15:30.
Everyone who played for Kansas contributed.
Malik Newman was a boss. Newman led all scorers with 32 points on 8-19 shooting. He pitched in 7 rebounds and 3 assists for good measure.
Devonte Graham played all 45 minutes in the game, putting up 11 points on 4-10 shooting. Graham dropped 6 dimes and grabbed 6 boards.
Svi Mykhailiuk only had 11 points and was “just” 3-9 from behind the arc, but had 10 rebounds and 5 assists (and 4 turnovers). Svi also probably had his best defensive game in a Kansas uniform tonight.
Silvio de Sousa was huge in this one. Three months ago he was in high school; tonight he was grabbing 10 rebounds in the Elite 8 while playing solid defense on Duke’s bigs down low.
Kansas held Duke, the #1 offensive rebounding team in the entire country, to rebounding just 25% of its misses (by my count - 10 offensive rebounds, 40 missed shots). Meanwhile, KU rebounded 43.6% of its misses.
Although KU only hit 13-36 (36.1%) of its threes, Duke was so much worse from behind the arc, connecting on just 7-29 (24.1%).
THE JAYHAWKS ARE GOING TO SAN ANTONIO AND THE FINAL FOUR!!!
KU will take on Villanova on Saturday, March 31, at approximately 7:49 PM (CDT) in San Antonio.