• 59°

Kansas builds lead, then holds on against Clemson

By Luke Meredith

AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — No crazy comeback story here.

Top-seeded Kansas brought at least a temporary halt to the insanity this March, withstanding a wild comeback from fifth-seeded Clemson for a too-close-for-comfort, 80-76 victory on Friday.

Malik Newman led the Jayhawks (30-7) with 17 points in a one-time runaway that got much closer and, quite frankly, won’t mean much if KU can’t finish the job in the Midwest Region final Sunday.

For the third straight year as a No. 1 seed, KU made its way through the Sweet 16. Getting to the Final Four has been a different story — and the Jayhawks are on the doorstep once again.

As a top seed the last two seasons, Kansas made it through the regional semifinals, only to flop a game shy of the Final Four both times. In fact, this is the sixth time Bill Self’s team has been seeded first since winning it all in 2008; the Jayhawks haven’t made the Final Four one of those times.

It could’ve ended Friday.

“We finished the game about as poorly as a team can,” Self said. “We know we’ve got to be a lot better Sunday, but we’re really proud and happy to be in the game.”

Clemson trailed 62-42 midway through the second half, but climbed to within six with 2:27 left. But thanks to Devonte’ Graham’s offensive rebound with 1:57 left, the Jayhawks ran almost a minute off the clock. The Tigers got the next rebound and had a chance to cut it to a one-possession game, but misfired on back-to-back 3s. From there, Kansas overcame a dogged Clemson press just long enough to ensure that the Tigers couldn’t pull any closer until the final buzzer. Kansas came into the game a 4 ½-point favorite.

Gabe DeVoe had a career-high 31 for Clemson (25-10), which couldn’t replicate the magic it showed in beating Auburn by 31 to reach its first Sweet 16 in 21 years.

PIVOTAL MOMENT

Clemson had scored five straight points to cut KU’s lead to 35-27 late in the first half when Elijah Thomas, after a review, was called for a flagrant foul. Silvio De Sousa knocked down the free throws, Lagerald Vick buried a 3 and Kansas cruised into halftime ahead 40-27. Vick, Newman and Graham then opened the second half with 3s to extend the lead to 20.

BIG PICTURE

For Kansas, it’s three down, three to go for a program that expects to compete for a national championship year in and year out. One of the most encouraging things about KU’s takedown of Clemson was that it jumped ahead by 13 at halftime despite a 1-for-7 start by Graham, the Big 12 player of the year. Udoka Azubuike looked strong in his first start of the tournament with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Clemson: What a wild 12 months it was for coach Brad Brownell. He entered the season on the hot seat after six straight seasons without even making the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 1997 even after losing Donte Grantham, arguably their best player. The big question next is whether 2017-18 will prove to be a fluke or the start of something big in the Upstate. The school has spent the money it needed to spend on facilities to become a basketball school — but will it ever get out of the shadow cast by Dabo Swinney’s football team?

Comments

Local

County government losing assistant manager, social services director

Education

RSS will collect information on full K-5 return

Nation/World

Barrett emerges as court favorite; Trump to pick by weekend

Local

Tillis says Trump will extend offshore drilling pause to NC

Coronavirus

12% of all Rowan COVID-19 cases currently active

Crime

Blotter: Concord man faces drug charges after hotel disturbance call

Crime

Rockwell teen charged with rape of a 14-year-old girl

Crime

Police: Charlotte man caught stealing funeral home employee’s truck

Local

Rowan Social Services director takes new job in New Hanover County; Heidrick to retire

Ask Us

Ask us: Will masks be required in Rowan County polling locations?

Elections

Political Notebook: Tillis, Cunningham differ on when to fill SCOTUS vacancy

Local

Local state trooper, firefighter returns home after Army deployment

Local

Blast from the past: Concordia Lutheran Church opens time capsule from previous century

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with damaging video camera, tresspassing

Crime

North Carolina man faces over 300 sex-related charges

News

Coastal flooding along Outer Banks closes roads

Nation/World

GOP hopeful Supreme Court battle will help shift election

Education

‘Better chance of succeeding’: Moody, colleagues reflect on tenure, retirement

News

Collecting garbage: Locals work to beautify High Rock Lake during Clean Sweep

Coronavirus

Salisbury man grateful parents’ story has impacted many

News

Celtics take big lead and hold on to top Heat 117-106

Business

Downtown Salisbury ‘moving swiftly’ with developers interested in Empire Hotel

Business

From fantasy to fact, Cherry builds a Hobbit House at his Treesort

Business

Biz Roundup: CSP seeking to hire 100 new employees for plant expansion