Big 12 busts
After several years of NCAA Tournament success in the early rounds, the Big 12 wound up 2013 with a paltry 3-5 record. It’s the fewest NCAA Tournament victories for league since 2001.
The record has a financial ramification. Leagues earn units, around $250,000 each, for each game a team plays in the postseason.
One block short
In his final college game, KU senior Jeff Withey wound up as the second most productive shot-blocker in NCAA Tournament history. Withey swatted away 49 in his 12 NCAA games, one behind the record set by Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan.
Kansas entered the game against Michigan leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense. But this was an unexpected offensive game. When the Jayhawks had 76 points at the end of regulation, that’s typically more than enough needed for the team that surrenders an average of 61.2 points per game.
“You score 76 points you should win the game, period,” KU coach Bill Self said. “We’ve been a team that’s labored offensively and been really good defensively. Tonight we labored defensively and was better offensively. If we could have been our personality, played like who we were, I think we would have been much better off.”
McGary vs. Withey
Michigan freshman forward Mitch McGary had his best game of the season with 25 points and 14 rebounds, and relished the challenge of battling Kansas senior Jeff Withey.
“He’s more of a leverage big, and I was trying to play behind him in the post and make him score over me,” McGary said.
Withey got the better of things early and got to halftime with eight points, five rebounds and two blocks. One of those blocks surprised Trey Burke. Withey got a hand on his floater early.
“Once, I got to the free-throw line and shot and he got a piece of it,” Burke said. “He was deep in the pain and still got a piece of it.”
But Withey appeared to tire late. After making his first five shots, he finished six of 11 from the field.
The overtime mo
Kansas knows how important it is to go into overtime with wind at the sails. It happened in both regular-season games against Iowa State, and historically the 2008 national title game against Memphis.
Friday, the tide clearly was with Michigan, which had made up a 10-point deficit in the final 2:52.
“Once we got to overtime, we did a really good job,” Burke said. “We stayed together as a team.”
Still, Kansas had a good chance to tie it, but guard Elijah Johnson passed up an opportunity to finish at the rim and passed to Naadir Tharpe for three-pointer that was off the mark.
The attendance at Cowboys Stadium, site of next year’s Final Four, was 40,639 on Friday. More than half the crowd appeared to be Kansas fans.
| Blair Kerkhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org