Kansas defense steps up late in tournament

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
12:45
PM ET
This is the eighth time in the last 30 seasons that there has been a rematch of a regular season meeting in the Championship Game. The last two times it has happened, the team that won the regular season meeting won the national title (Kentucky defeated Kansas by 10 points in November).

Kansas has been a second half team over its last four tournament games, holding the opposition to 24 points per game on 24.2 percent shooting from the field, compared to 37.5 PPG and 49.1 percent field shooting in the first half.

The Jayhawks were even stingier in the final five minutes of their last two games. Kansas outscored Ohio State 13-7 in the final five minutes of the game Saturday, holding the Buckeyes to 2-of-10 shooting during this stretch. It was the fifth straight game in which a Kansas opponent shot less than 30 percent in the final five minutes, including 0-for-7 by North Carolina in the Midwest Region Final.

Overall, the Jayhawks are holding the opposition to 19.5 percent shooting (8-for-41) in the final five minutes of tournament games, the lowest percentage of any team that advanced to the Round of 32. In addition, Kansas has trailed at halftime in three of its wins in the tournament (Purdue, N.C. State and Ohio State). In the previous eight tournaments under Bill Self, the Jayhawks were 0-5 after trailing at halftime.

Kentucky’s key in the tournament has been its transition offense. The Wildcats lead the tournament field with 112 transition points (22.4 PPG) and have scored 62.5 percent of these points off missed shots, the second-highest percentage among teams to advance to the Sweet 16.

Kentucky has outscored all five opponents in transition during the tournament. The Wildcats entered the tournament with a 7.4 per-game transition differential, 13th best in the nation.

Kentucky is shooting 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) from 3-point range in transition, including a tournament-high four makes by Doron Lamb.

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