Kansas got absolutely rolled in its first Final Four since 2012 as Villanova took it to the Jayhawks and took a 95-79 victory.
The game actually started out pretty well; KU won the opening tip, and Udoka Azubuike scored in the post to give KU a 2-0 lead. But Villanova scored the next 11 points, opening up an 11-2 lead. That lead quickly swelled to 22-4 before Bill Self called his second timeout of the half at the 13:03 mark.
Kansas switched to a zone defense and scrapped back into it - kinda - getting to with 12 at 25-13 on a Lagerald Vick layup with 10:04 to go until halftime. Villanova didn’t cool off much, and maintained a 15-ish point lead for the rest of the half before going into halftime with a 47-32 lead.
Villanova tied the Final Four record for made threes in a game in the first half with 13. The Wildcats took 78.8% of their first half shots from behind the arc and made 50.0% of them (13-26). KU hit just 2-6 threes and just 43.3% from the floor.
It took Villanova 62 seconds to break that Final Four made threes record. Things never improved for Kansas in the second half as the Wildcats continued making open threes, guarded threes, deep threes, any kind of three you can think of, they made. ‘Nova got its first 20-point lead at 54-34 with 16:37 to play, and the Wildcats just went on cruise control from there as they began taking their time on offense and dribbling down the shot clock.
When Kansas closed to 71-57 with 9:23 to play, the Jayhawks promptly went scoreless on their next five possessions: miss, miss, miss, turnover, miss. KU would never threaten again.
Final score: Villanova 95, Kansas 79
I’m not sure what KU’s defensive gameplan going into this was, but it’s pretty clear it wasn’t executed, because “Let them shoot open threes” couldn’t have been a part of it, right?
The Wildcats “cooled off” in the second half, hitting just 5-14 to finish the game at 18-40 (45.0%). The 18 made threes and 40 attempts are both records for a national semifinal (Final Four) game.
Villanova had 20 assists on 36 made baskets.
Devonte Graham led the Jayhawks with 23 points on 9-18 shooting, including 4-8 from three. Malik Newman put up 21 points of his own on 6-14 shooting, but pretty much everyone else was a no show.
I wonder what Bob Huggins thinks of the free throw disparity in this one. Kansas shot 21 free throws, while ‘Nova had just 7 attempts. Those darn refs!
Regardless, this game was all about Villanova and its offense. As everyone struggled for Kansas, Villanova hit just about everything. Villanova had six players in double figures and seven players made a three. Unfortunately, that’s just how this game goes sometimes. We knew this Kansas team had some flaws, especially defensively, but I’m not sure the NBA all-defensive team could have stopped ‘Nova tonight.
This is a Kansas team that got uncharacteristically whooped several times at home this year, but still managed to win the Big 12 (by two games!) and make the program’s 15th Final Four. The Jayhawks just ran into the buzzsaw that is Villanova this year, who is rated by KenPom as one of the best offenses in the past 20 years. That offense was clicking tonight, and there just wasn’t anything anyone could do about it.
Up Next, we await the official announcement for Late Night in the Phog, which will take place sometime in late September or early October. I suppose there’s also a few football games in there too, but... sigh.
Good season, boys. Thanks for the ride. Beating K-State three more times, ending Grayson Allen’s career - it was fun!