May 21, 2024

KU advances to Final Four with win over Duke

OMAHA, Neb. – A career high from redshirt-sophomore guard Malik Newman, along with a game-tying 3-pointer from senior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to force overtime helped lead the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks to a thrilling 85-81 overtime win over the No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils in the NCAA Championship’s Elite Eight Sunday night inside CenturyLink Arena. Newman, who was named the Midwest Region’s Most Outstanding Player, scored 32 points, including all 13 of his team’s points in overtime, to lead Kansas to its 15th Final Four and its first since 2012.

In addition to Newman’s Midwest Region Most Outstanding Player honor, the Jackson, Mississippi, product as named to the Region’s All-Tournament Team along with senior teammate Devonte’ Graham.

In a game that featured 11 ties and 18 lead changes, it came down to heroics from Mykhailiuk and Newman, as well as some stingy Jayhawk defense, that final gave the Jayhawks the final cushion they needed to outlast the Blue Devils.

With less than a minute to play in regulation and trailing Duke by three points, 72-69, Graham found Mykhailiuk at the top of the key for a guarded 3-point try. The senior out of Ukraine buried the shot, his third three of the night, with 26 seconds remaining in regulation to knot up the score at 72-72.

Duke had one last chance to win the game in regulation, putting the ball in the hands of its senior leader Grayson Allen. The Blue Devil guard penetrated the lane and put up a shot off the backboard that hung on the rim and rolled off as time expired, sending the game to overtime, KU’s first of the season.

In the extra period the Blue Devils did not have an answer for Newman. The redshirt-sophomore connected on a 3-pointer less than a minute into the overtime to hand KU a one-point lead, 75-74. He then swished 3-of-4 free throws, one of which came after drawing the fifth foul on Duke forward Wendell Carter Jr.

After Newman picked the pocket of Trevon Duval, KU had the ball with the score tied at 78-78 with under two minutes to play in overtime, and junior guard Lagerald Vick found Newman in the corner with just enough space to hoist up his 12th 3-point shot of the game. The shot went through the net with ease and Kansas found itself with a 3-point advantage with 90 seconds to play.

KU’s defense, which allowed just one Duke field goal over the final 2:30 of the extra period, got two more stops on the Blue Devils’ next two possessions. Newman was fouled and sunk another pair of charities and the Jayhawks found themselves with a two-possession lead, 83-78, with 28 seconds to play. Newman tallied another steal on Duke’s next trip down the floor, which led to two more free throws and his 31st and 32nd points of the game.

Duke’s Allen shot in a desperation 3-pointer with four seconds left, but time had run out on the Blue Devils and the Jayhawks closed out the 85-81 victory.

The three ball kept the Jayhawks in the game during the early minutes. Myhkailiuk buried a pair, the first giving him a single-season KU record of 112 on the year, and Graham connected on his first, all within the opening eight minutes of the game. Duke’s stingy 2-3 zone proved to be tough to crack as KU managed to hit just seven of its first 21 shots, helping the Blue Devils build a slight lead, 23-19, 13 minutes in to the contest.

An 8-2 run helped the Jayhawks pull ahead late in the first half. Newman scored four points during the spurt that saw KU take a 29-27 lead on a Vick jumper with 3:12 left in the opening period.

The Blue Devils also managed to swing the momentum in the first half’s final minutes, hitting five of their final seven shots as Duval scored his team’s final six points to see Duke take a 36-33 advantage into the halftime locker room.

Kansas’ shooters found their touch after the intermission. Newman swished back-to-back threes on the Jayhawks’ first two possessions of the second half before Vick shot in his first 3-pointer of the game at the 16:35 mark to get the Jayhawks out to a 44-39 lead. Newman kept the KU offense rolling, with four more points over the next minute and the Jayhawks found themselves with their biggest lead of the game, ahead 48-41 with 15:30 to play.

Duke fought back and tied the game up just over five minutes later. Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III scored six points during a 16-9 stretch by the Blue Devils to knot the score up at 57-57 midway through the second half.

A 7-0 Blue Devil run three minutes later saw Duke take a 64-62 lead with just under six minutes left in regulation. From there, the lead changed hands six times over the final 5:28 of the second half. Four free throws from Allen handed his team a 3-point advantage with under a minute to play; however, Mykhailiuk’s 3-pointer, and subsequent KU defensive stop on Duke’s final possession would send the game to overtime, where the Jayhawks ultimately prevailed.

Newman closed out a career night with 32 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He was one of four Jayhawks to score in double figures. Vick poured in 14 points, 10 of which came in the second half. Mykhailiuk picked up the first double-double of his career, scoring 11 points and pulling down a career-high 10 rebounds. Graham, who broke the program’s single-season assist record, now with 279 on the season, also tallied 11 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc.

The Jayhawks have advanced to their 15th all-time Final Four and their second Final Four in San Antonio, with the other being in 2008 when Kansas won its last NCAA National Championship. Kansas will meet No. 1 seed Villanova on Saturday, March 31 inside the Alamodome in the national semifinal. Tip-off is slated for 7:49 p.m., on TBS.