For Fred VanVleet, one play defined why Wichita State pulled away from Kansas in the second half of their NCAA Tournament game Sunday and never let up.
The Shockers had already surged ahead by double digits in the second half when a loose ball skidded from Kansas’ end toward mid court.
It appeared Kansas’ Kelly Oubre would get to it first, but Wichita State freshman Zach Brown came from behind to win the footrace, secured the ball and threw down a dunk that put the Shockers up 56-45 with 9:33 to play.
“He probably should have woke up on that play,” VanVleet said after the game, referring to Oubre’s answer a day earlier, when he was asked whether he watched Wichita State’s round of 64 victory over Indiana.
Oubre’s response to that question Saturday: “I think I took a nap during that game. But I woke up and saw that they won.”
KU beat New Mexico State in an 11:15 a.m. tipoff Friday before Wichita State’s first game. The Jayhawks had a walkthrough at 6:45 a.m., according to KU coach Bill Self, so a little rest after such an early game might not have been surprising.
“I didn’t take it as disrespect,” VanVleet said Sunday when asked what he thought of Oubre’s comment. “I probably wouldn’t have said that publicly because I like to show respect to the other team. But he can sleep all he wants to now. …
“We just had the tougher guys today. I’m not saying that we’re way tougher than those guys, but we made the plays today. …
“Oubre’s way in front of him, but you know just the extra effort, toughness, going to get it, not assuming and he ended up slamming it home.”