NCAA Tournament: Kansas 72, Villanova 57
DETROIT ó The Kansas Jayhawks toyed with Villanova, throwing alley-oop passes off the backboard and raining 3-pointers from all over the court without breaking a sweat.
Brandon Rush scored 16 points, Russell Robinson had 15 and top-seeded Kansas routed the 12th-seeded Wildcats 72-57 Friday night to earn a spot in the Midwest Regional final.
The Jayhawks (34-3) will be a huge favorite to end 10th-seeded Davidson’s stay in the NCAA tournament and advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2003.
Kansas coach Bill Self is in the regional finals for the fifth time ó at three schools ó since 2000 and is a win away from no longer being regarded as the best coach without a Final Four on his resume.
Villanova (22-13) had to know the night was doomed when star guard Scottie Reynolds shot an airball and missed another try on the opening possession of the game.
The Wildcats simply could not keep up with the Wildcats’ speed, size and athletic ability at the other end of the court.
Kansas slammed four alley-oop passes in the opening 9 minutes and made seven 3-pointers to take a 41-22 lead at halftime.
Looking like they were on asphalt in the middle of the summer, Robinson and Rush hooked up on a play that would make the Harlem Globetrotters proud.
Robinson drove on the left side of the lane and tossed a pass off the glass to Rush, who slammed home the carom.
Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, indeed.
Unlike some NCAA tournament games that are decided in the final moments, this was seemed over early.
Kansas took control early with a 14-2 run.
Reynolds was scoreless until making a 3-pointer midway through the first half, a shot that started an 11-2 burst that pulled Villanova within seven points with just under 7 minutes left.
Then, Kansas held the Wildcats to only a point and no field goals the rest of the half and opened up a 19-point lead at the break.
Villanova needed Reynolds to score at least 20 points as he had in each of his previous three NCAA tournament games, but he didn’t come close against swarming guards and helping big men.
He was just 2-of-9 in the first half and finished 4-of-13 for 11 points, leading his offensively challenged team in scoring.
Villanova’s task on defense grew when center Casiem Drummond ó its only player taller than 6-foot-8 ó broke his right ankle in the second-round win over Siena.
The Wildcats were one of the last teams to slip into the NCAA tournament and looked out of place against the high-powered Jayhawks, who lead the nation with an average scoring margin of 20.