Wichita State, Wisconsin survive in Omaha, head to Sweet 16
For Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, the concern is energy.
More than one Wichita State player called the Shockers' 78-65 win over Kansas in the NCAA Tournament's round of 32 the most significant in his career.
Totally understandable. Kansas casts an overwhelming shadow in the Sunflower State. Wichita State's overtures to play the marquee program 160 miles away have been rejected repeatedly because, KU coach Bill Self says, the Jayhawks have nothing to gain by playing the Shockers of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Second-seeded Kansas was forced to play the No. 7 Shockers on Sunday. It was just how the bracket lined up, with a trip to the Midwest Regional semifinals at stake, and Wichita State won in surprisingly easy fashion.
''I'm speechless,'' Tekele Cotton said. ''Like I heard Fred (VanVleet) say in the locker room, he didn't know what to feel, like this feeling was unreal, and he was right about that.''
Now Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall wants his players to put it behind them quickly.
Ryan was thinking about what's ahead. He hinted that his team was getting a bad deal with its short turnaround from Sunday night's 72-65 win over Oregon to the West Regional semifinal four days later between his top-seeded Badgers and No. 4 North Carolina on the West Coast.
''The other three teams that are going out to California were finished yesterday,'' Ryan said. ''I just find that kind of curious, why this is the way it is. But I'm sure with logistics, this is what happens. So we won't have as much preparation time as our opponent, but we'll just have to run a little faster.''
Cotton scored 19 points for Shockers (30-4), and VanVleet finished with 17. Evan Wessel hit four 3-pointers and scored 12.
The Badgers beat the Ducks for the second straight year in the round of 32. Wisconsin had its worst shooting game in a month, got outrebounded by the smaller Ducks, and Big Ten player of the year Frank Kaminsky was quiet offensively for long stretches.
Still, the Badgers (33-3) were able to get out to a quick lead and hold on, and now they're headed to the regional semifinals for the fourth time in five years.
''We're definitely excited and thrilled to be there, but we're not as in awe or shocked as we were last year,'' Nigel Hayes said. ''Last year, we were jumping around up and down on the court, celebrating. This time, it was `Hoo-rah, good job guys. We have the next game to take care of.'''
Sam Dekker scored 17 points, hitting a couple big baskets after Oregon (26-10) had tied it late. Kaminsky had 16 points, with no shot bigger than his putback of Hayes' missed free throw to make it a 10-point game with 44 seconds left.
''We had ourselves in a position against an experienced, well-coached and very good team,'' Ducks coach Dana Altman said. ''I'm sorry we couldn't get it finished off for these guys so we could keep playing.''
Things to know about the games in Omaha:
ABOUT THAT SERIES
When asked whether he kissed away any chance of playing Kansas on a regular basis, Marshall replied: ''Who knows? They may want to play now. I have no idea. I'm not worried about that. I'm fine letting the series lay the way it is right now. The series is good with me.''
BLUE COLLAR VS. BLUE BLOODS
Wichita State couldn't help but relish its victory over the elite program in Lawrence.
''We don't have McDonald's All-Americans, we don't have guys that have been in the spotlight, and been given that pedestal,'' VanVleet said. ''We work for everything we've got, from managers to coaches to our preacher to, you know, whoever. We've scrapped and fought our whole lives.''
ZAK'S BIG MOMENT
Wisconsin reserve guard Zak Showalter, who averages two points, made a 3-pointer and reverse layup on consecutive possessions to extend the Badgers' three-point lead to 45-37 in the middle of the second half.
''I always try to stay ready,'' he said. ''I know some of the things that have been said about our bench, and we want to prove ourselves.''
IT'S NOT A BEAUTY CONTEST
It's all about winning now, so the fact Wisconsin shot just 43 percent and got outrebound 34-32 and outscored 30-24 in the lane didn't matter much to guard Josh Gasser.
''At this point,'' Gasser said, ''I don't care if we play like crap and still win.''