Kansas Goes 2-1 In Battle 4 Atlantis

Quarterfinal vs NC State

The story of the first round game was the red hot first half for Gradey Dick. The freshman sharpshooter made six three pointers in the first half on just nine attempts. He would finish as the game’s leading scorer, collecting 25 points on the night.

An eight point halftime lead for the Jayhawks was erased just two minutes into the second half and the Wolfpack would stay within nine the rest of the game. It was a three point game at the under four timeout, but the Jayhawks would score on six of their final eight possessions to put the game away. Jalen Wilson, Dajuan Harris, and Kevin McCullar all finish in double figures, with KJ Adams coming up two points shy of joining them. Next up, Wisconsin.

Semifinal vs Wisconsin

This was perhaps the most exciting game of Feast Week. Gradey Dick picked up right where he left off from the day before, canning three first half three pointers to help the Jayhawks take a 13 point lead into halftime. While they held on to that lead a little longer than the one they had against NC State, Wisconsin was still able to knot it up by the under eight timeout.

The two teams went back and forth for the final eight minutes of regulation. With just 49 seconds left, Wisconsin took their first lead since it was 6-4. After a couple more free throws, the Badgers led by three with 23 seconds on the clock. Zach Clemence missed a three, but saved his own rebound from going out of bounds and found a wide open Kevin McCullar, who would drain the shot. After a missed buzzer beater by the Badgers, the game went to overtime.

The overtime period say just 11 points scored between the two teams, three of which came from free throws. Wisconsin took another late lead on a Tyler Wahl basket and the Jayhawks took a timeout with just 16 seconds left. It was once again Clemence missing a three point attempt at the end, but Bobby Pettiford was there to play hero. After the missed shot was batted around, Pettiford (all while in the air) grabbed the rebound and put up a reverse layup with just .2 seconds left. Wisconsin was unable to get a shot off, and the Jayhawks advanced to the championship game.

Championship vs Tennessee

The lack of size and efficient offense finally came back to bite the Jayhawks in the championship game against Tennessee. Those two, mixed with just an off night all around, made for a rough night for nearly all 40 minutes.

The Volunteers had a clear height advantage, and they used it to dominate the boards. They out-rebounded the Jayhawks by 18, which is a good way to control the rest of the game. Another thing that helped their rebounding advantage was Tennessee’s top tier defense and subsequent poor shooting night for Kansas. They shot 32 percent from the field and made just 17 shots the entire game. Aside from Joseph Yesufu’s six baskets, nobody else had more than three made field goals.

Wilson and Yesufu were the only Jayhawks to finish in double figures, as the rest of the team combined for just 22 points. Dajuan Harris, who had never fouled out in his 76 game college career, picked up his fifth foul after playing just 18 minutes. Tennessee, who came into the game shooting 30 percent from behind the arc, shot 44 percent on 27 attempts. While it wasn’t a great matchup to begin with, sometimes things just don’t go your way.

This was simply a perfect storm for Tennessee, as the favorable matchup and off night for the Jayhawks led to a late cruise to a championship. Kansas will need to address two things moving forward: lack of reliable size and reliance on Jalen Wilson’s offense. Freshmen Zuby Ejiofor and Ernest Udeh should improve as the season progresses to address the first issue, but the Jayhawks will need a couple more threats to emerge on the offensive end to keep teams from hyper-focusing on Wilson. Coach Self will have just a couple days to correct any issues before their next game, which is Monday against Texas Southern.

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