WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Kenny Gregory scored 22 points and Nick Bradford added 14 and blocked the potential game-tying shot with a second left, leading eighth-seeded Kansas to an 81-77 overtime victory over DePaul in an East Region first-round game.
Gregory had the hot hand in regulation, hitting 11-of-12 from the field, but in the overtime Bradford sparked the Jayhawks with a pair of steals and a driving layup that put them ahead to stay, 79-77, with 47 seconds to play.
"I think Nick was our emotional leader today," Kansas coach Roy Williams said. "Down the stretch, he missed free throws, missed a key shot, but he made a big shot and made a big block." Kansas (24-9) had a chance to put the game out of reach with 8.3 seconds left, but Nick Collison hit 1-of-2 from the line, leaving the Jayhawks with an 80-77 advantage.
The Blue Demons (21-12) put the ball in Quentin Richardson's hands, though the forward was hobbled with a sprained ankle. Richardson tried to shake Bradford and seemed to have found daylight, but Bradford got his hand on the ball.
The Jayhawks fell behind 77-71 in the overtime, and looked like DePaul was ready to send Kansas home.
"I remember going into the huddle and looking at some of the guys and I saw a little doubt in their eyes," Jeff Boschee said. "I told them we have to keep playing, there's 1:30 left. The next thing you know, we come down, knock down a shot and it's a ballgame." It was Boschee himself who hit the shot, a 3-pointer that pulled Kansas within 77-75.
"The play was designed for me," Boschee said. "I was able to get some space and it only takes me a 10th of a second to get my shot off. I have all the confidence in the world in my shot." Richardson and Paul McPherson led DePaul with 21 points apiece, and Rashon Burno had six assists.
"It's sort of been an enigma for us all year, last-second collapses with Cincinnati and a few other games," Richardson said. "We have a tendency to get relaxed at the end of games once we are up, and lose focus and lose concentration. We can also turn it into a positive and use that as a great starting block next year and use that just to motivate us next season." It looked like Richardson was ready to carry the Blue Demons, scoring their first eight points, but he aggravated his sprained left ankle eight minutes into the game and went to the bench. When he came back with the ankle re-taped, he played more tentatively.
"I rolled it real bad," Richardson said. "I really couldn't get explosive going either way. If I tried to push off on my foot, it was weak." Still, DePaul took the largest lead of the first half, 19-14, with a 9-0 run capped by Richardson's 3-pointer with eight minutes to play.
Kansas came right back after a steal and fastbreak layup by Bradford and a 3-pointer by Kirk Hinrich that tied the score, 19-19, with less than seven minutes left. The teams traded the lead back and forth the rest of the half, which ended with DePaul up, 33-32.
In the second half neither team led by more than four points, and in the final two minutes both teams squandered chances with the score tied 70-70.
Burno missed a pair of free throws, but then stripped Hinrich as the Jayhawk tried to start a move toward the paint. The Blue Demons could not capitalize because Gregory blocked Richardson's layup attempt from behind.
Kansas plays Duke in the second round on Sunday.