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NCAA Tournament Recap (Evansville-Kansas)

Posted: Sat March 13, 1999 at 1:01 a.m EST

NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Jeff Boschee led a balanced attack with 17 points and sixth-seeded Kansas blew open the game midway through the second half and crushed Evansville, 95-74, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the South Region.

Kansas (23-9) held a four-point halfime lead and was up 58-51 with just over 15 minutes remaining but slowly widened its lead and cruised to its 16th straight first-round triumph. The Jayhawks have not dropped their opening tournament game since falling to UCLA in 1978.

"I felt like we took their legs from them," said Kansas coach Roy Williams. "We got up on their shooters and we got great play early with our size advantage and we felt it was important to keep going back there."

Kansas, a top seed which was eliminated in the second round last season by Rhode Island, will play third-seeded and defending NCAA Tournament champion Kentucky on Sunday.

Marcus Wilson matched a season high 34 points for Evansville (23-10), which is winless in the NCAA Tournament since a 94-90 overtime victory over Oregon State in the first round in 1989. The Purple Aces fell to 1-5 all-time in the "Big Dance."

"Obviously, Kansas did a great job of throwing the ball inside and ramming it down our throats," said Evansville coach Jim Crews. "They do a good job of using different angles and different players in the post. Offensively, when we got it inside, we couldn't do anything with it."

Two free throws by Kyle Runyon with 15:13 left brought the Purple Aces within seven points, but was as close as they would get throughout the remainder of the contest.

"In the first few minutes I was getting open looks at the basket and hitting all my shots," said Wilson. "And then they started tightening up and extending on the screens. That made it much more difficult for me to get the same looks I was getting."

The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes before Nick Bradford drained a 17-foot jump shot to ignite a 13-3 run as the Jayhawks put the game away. Marlon London followed with a layup before Runyon briefly stemmed the tide with a 3-pointer. Kansas, however, scored the next nine points.

Lester Earl began the run by connecting on the first of two free throws, and London took a feed from Boschee to convert a layup and make it 71-58 with 9:41 to play. Earl scored underneath and Braford converted a layup before burying an eight-footer to give Kansas a 77-58 lead with 8:34 left.

Evansville did fight back, using a 14-7 run to come within 84-72 on a free throw from Runyon with 3:40 to play. But Bradford connected on two free throws to begin an 11-0 tear, and Boschee followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 89-72 with 2:14 remaining.

Bradford netted 16 points and T.J. Pugh had 15 and 10 rebounds for Kansas, which shot a blistering 63 percent (41-of-65) despite making just 2-of-10 from 3-point range. Eric Chenowith tallied 13 points and seven rebounds and reserve Kenny Gregory contributed 12 points.

"We played pretty well at times," Pugh said. "This team has been up and down all year. We can't think that playing well tongiht is going to translate into playing well on Sunday."

Kansas tied its second-highest scoring output of the season, trailing only a 107-78 rout of Southern California on December 12.

"We can win a game in the 50s or 60s," added Williams. "We like to have control of a tempo game. If I told our players we wanted an up-temp game, they would say, 'under control.' Other team's offenses slow us down. If you take away the first six to eight minutes, we were awfully good."

London grabbed five rebounds off the bench as Kansas built a dominating 45-15 advantage on the boards. The Jayhawks had 15 offensive rebounds to just four by the Purple Aces, leading to their high shooting percentage.

"Rebounding has always been kind of the X-factor this season," added Pugh. "Coach Williams told us to focus on that at the beginning of the game and we did a good job on the boards tonight."

Craig Snow had 16 points and four rebounds and Wilson dished out four assists for Evansville, which shot 46 percent (27-of-59) and was 12-of-30 from behind the arc.

"They are obviously bigger than us and when they started getting two and three shots, that played a big part in the loss," Snow said.

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP



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