March 25, 2011
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - In an NCAA regional full of underdogs, Kansas played like the dominant No. 1 seed it is.
Brady Morningstar scored 18 points and the Jayhawks knocked off 12th-seeded Richmond 77-57 Friday night get one win from returning to the Final Four for the first time since their 2008 championship. They await the winner of 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth and 10th-seeded Florida State.
The Southwest regional is the first in NCAA history with three double-digit seeded teams. But the Spiders looked jittery in the school's second round-of-16 appearance.
The Jayhawks? They were calm and confident in reaching a fourth regional final under coach Bill Self.
Justin Harper led Richmond with 22 points.
The Spiders (29-8) passed up open shots, bounced balls into the Kansas bench and found themselves down 31-9 with more than six minutes still left in the first half. It belied the bluster Richmond appeared to show during a chippy confrontation with Kansas players before tipoff.
The Spiders were bouncing around the tunnel of the Alamodome, firing themselves up, when Kansas players brushed past them on their way to the court. Some apparent contact set off an exchange of words and shoves, and security stepped between the teams.
Before Kansas (35-2) filed back to the locker room at halftime - with a 41-22 lead - Self held his players back and waited for Richmond to exit first. He told TBS during a halftime interview that he wanted his players to go through the tunnel after the Spiders.
Self said he wasn't after separation at that moment. But on the scoreboard, the Jayhawks already had it.
Thomas Robinson had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Marcus Morris scored 13 for Kansas. The Jayhawks have yet to be tested so far this tournament, winning by an average of nearly 18 points.
Kansas is riding an easy-looking path toward the Final Four. The Jayhawks can make it to Houston next week without having beaten a seed higher than nine.
If that happens, Kansas will join Michigan State in 2001 and North Carolina in 1991 as the only schools to get that far without having to beat a seed higher than nine. And only five teams have reached the Final Four by feasting on teams seeded eighth or lower, according to STATS LLC.
One of those schools? The 2008 Jayhawks.
That run ended in the Alamodome with Self winning his first title at Kansas. Three years later, the Jayhawks looked every bit at home in San Antonio.
When Robinson dunked over a pair of Richmond players to make it 31-9, Kansas players on the bench jumped to their feet and laughed. The Jayhawks shot 48 percent from the floor and made 9 of 19 3-pointers.
Kevin Anderson scored 13 points for the Spiders. He and Harper were the only Richmond players in double figures.
Anderson, who hit the winning shot to upset Vanderbilt in the tournament opener, averaged 26.2 points in Richmond's previous five wins over ranked teams. But the senior was 5 of 17 from the floor in his final game and missed all six of his 3-pointers.
The loss stopped Richmond from reaching the first regional final in school history. Coach Chris Mooney sought to inspire his players this week by showing them Richmond's stunning win at Allen Fieldhouse in 2004 during Self's first season at Kansas.
That win ended Kansas' 52-game home unbeaten streak against unranked opponents. But these Jayhawks never looked in trouble this time.
Morningstar was 7 for 11 from the floor, including four 3-pointers. Josh Selby added nine points for Kansas.