Wichita State and the Kansas Jayhawks had not met since 1993, in what was once a regularly-scheduled match-up.
No. 2-seeded Kansas probably wished it stayed that way after a 78-65 loss to the seven-seeded Shockers at CenturyLink Center Sunday night.
Tekele Cotton’s hot shooting night and another consistent performance from Fred VanVleet paced the Shockers to their sixth NCAA tournament regional semifinal round in school history.
Cotton led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting for the Shockers (30-4). VanVleet continued his impressive play with 17 points to go with six rebounds, four steals and a team-high six assists.
The first half saw Kansas (27-9) lead 18 out of the first 19 minutes, but ended with Wichita State picking up a 29-26 halftime advantage after shooting 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from three-point range.
The Shockers’ lights-out shooting continued in the second half as they knocked down 59.3 percent (16-of-27) of their shots in the second stanza to outscore the Jayhawks by a 49-39 margin.
Kansas forward Perry Ellis tied the team-high of 17 points while bringing down eight rebounds. Frank Mason III ended with 16 points and six rebounds, but was ultimately overmatched by VanVleet.
Wichita State’s VanVleet had another solid outing, this time coming against Kansas. Following his career-high 27-point game against Indiana in their first-round game, VanVleet put the team on his back once more with another double-digit scoring effort. Wichita State will go as far as VanVleet can lead them.
Strange, But True
Wichita State is just the third team to defeat the Jayhawks at the Big Dance with five players scoring in double digits. The previous two teams reached the championship game (Michigan, 2013; Texas Western, 1966).
With 54 seconds left in the first half, VanVleet drained a three-pointer to give Wichita State a rare first half lead, 29-26. Wichita State eventually outscored Kansas 49-39 in the second half behind VanVleet’s energy and leadership.
The Shockers face another tough test in the likes of the three-seeded Fighting Irish in Cleveland Thursday night. Notre Dame is coming off a 67-64 overtime win over No. 6 seed Butler. The Jayhawks’ season ends as Big 12 regular season champions.