Shreyas Laddha covers KU hoops and football for The Star. He’s a Georgia native and graduated from the University of Georgia.
Des Moines, Iowa
Kansas forward Jalen Wilson couldn’t hide his look of irritation.
After squandering a 10-point lead against Arkansas, the Jayhawks made things difficult for themselves. Wilson was frustrated after turning the ball over late off his leg. Not to mention, KU kept missing pivotal free throws when the game was tight.
Kansas had plenty of chances but failed to do the little things. That’s ultimately why the Jayhawks’ season is now over.
No. 8 Arkansas upset the No. 1 Jayhawks (28-8, 13-5 Big 12) 72-71 to advance into the Sweet 16. Kansas last lost in the Round of 32 in 2021, losing to USC 85-51.
Davonte Davis finished with 25 points while Ricky Council added 21 more points for the Razorbacks, who will play the winner of No. 4 UConn and No. 5 St. Mary’s in the Sweet 16.
Jalen Wilson scored 20 points and KJ Adams added 14 more for KU.
Late in the game, the Jayhawks had the ball down three and Wilson was fouled with three seconds left. Wilson made both free throws — he tried to miss the second but banked it in — and the clock expired as Arkansas inbounded the ball.
Before that, Arkansas’ Ricky Council IV made two free throws to put the Razorbacks up three points.
Another big sequence late in the game: After making one free throw to go up one, Council missed the second but collected his own rebound. He was fouled and made both free throws and Arkansas went up 70-67 with 20 seconds left.
Prior to that, Council missed a jumper, but Kamani Johnson made the second-chance layup to put Arkansas up two points with 47 seconds left. Wilson was fouled during the next possession and converted both free throws to tie the game.
Kansas coach Bill Self did not coach the game; assistant coach Norm Roberts served as acting coach, as had been the case for the entire postseason.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game…
The Jayhawks knew the game plan coming into this game was to limit the paint attempts for Arkansas and keep the Razorbacks off the offensive glass.
Kansas executed that plan to perfection in the first half on Saturday.
KU walled off the paint, kept an eye on Razorback cutters and forced a poor three-point-shooting team to chuck up desperate three-pointers.
Arkansas shot 10-for-28 (35.7%) from the floor, including 1-for-9 (11.1%) from beyond the arc in the first half.
Despite the Razorbacks being known for their inside scoring, KU had an eight-point advantage in paint points (22-14) in the first half.
KU point guard Dajuan Harris sprained his ankle with 3:07 left in the first half and gingerly walked into the locker room.
Despite that, Harris played — and actually started — the second half.
He held his own defensively and moved well laterally despite the injury.
Offensively, Harris delivered some timely buckets when the Jayhawks needed them most, including a big three-point shot in the second half.
The stat sheet numbers weren’t gaudy, but his presence on the court made it easier for the rest of his teammates. Harris finished with 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.
He did, however, have a costly 10-second violation bringing the ball up the floor in the second half.
Arkansas is one of the best in the nation in drawing fouls, ranking 25th in the nation in foul rate.
The Razorbacks lived up to those expectations on Thursday. Arkansas relentlessly drove the ball, putting pressure on Kansas’ bigs, which paid off.
The Jayhawks’ two main bigs — KJ Adams and his backup, Ernest Udeh Jr. — had four fouls each midway through the second half.
It forced Roberts to play forward Zach Clemence, who had played seven minutes since January.
The foul trouble forced KU to play with caution and it allowed the Razorbacks to get good looks at the rim without much resistance. Neither Adams nor Udeh fouled out, but Kevin McCullar (13 points, five rebounds) did in the final minute.
This story was originally published March 18, 2023, 7:04 PM.
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