Sunday, March 20, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Kansas 73, Illinois 59
By Pat Forde
TULSA, Okla. -- Thoughts on Kansas' 73-59 win over Illinois:
Overview: The Northern Iowa loss is now dead. Top-seeded Kansas got past the ghost of its shocking round-of-32 upset loss last year by beating stubborn Illinois at the same point in this tournament. The No. 9 seed Illini hung in the game most of the way but could not handle the inside strength of the Jayhawks.
Turning point: Illinois was down just five, 56-51, with less than six minutes remaining. That's when Kansas reeled off 10 straight points to get the game under control.
Key player: Let's go with two -- the usual two for Kansas. Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris combined for 41 points and 25 rebounds, punishing the slender Illini in the paint.
Key stat: Illinois coach Bruce Weber said his team needed another stellar game from point guard Demetri McCamey, and he could not deliver. Although the senior did have seven assists -- the Illini had been 15-0 this season when he reached that number -- he couldn't score against the Kansas guards. The Illini's leading scorer had just six points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Miscellaneous: Illinois did not play Jereme Richmond, who missed his second game for a violation of athletic department rules. ... KU coach Bill Self got the victory over his successor, Weber, who famously had a mock funeral for Self to help everyone at Illinois get over his departure to Kansas eight years ago.
What's next: Kansas' primrose path toward Houston next encounters 12th-seeded Richmond in San Antonio. It's possible that the Jayhawks will not face a team seeded better than ninth until the Final Four, if they keep winning.