A final score of 76-60 does little to convey just how tough it was for the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks to down No. 16 Penn on Thursday afternoon in Wichita.
Kansas became the 133rd No. 1 seed in a row to beat a No. 16 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Yet with eight minutes left in the first half, it was the Quakers who led 21-11 before Devonte’ Graham and Co. shook the rust off.
Nevertheless, the Jayhawks are on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
3 Who Mattered
Devonte’ Graham: Where would the Jayhawks have been without their leader today? The Big 12 Player of the Year scored 19 first half points and 29 in the game to go along with six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
AJ Brodeur: One of two leading scorers for Penn with 14 points, the forward was 6-of-16 from the field while also pulling down nine rebounds.
Mitch Lightfoot: With Udoka Azubuike still out of the starting lineup due to injury, Lightfoot nearly posted a double-double against Penn with nine points and 11 rebounds. He also blocked three shots.
Kansas is starting to miss Azubuike: Without their enforcer roaming the paint, the Jayhawks’ guards have had to crash the boards and double down in the paint more often. That’s left shooters open on the perimeter, and it cost Kansas early against Penn.
The Quakers buried 11 3-pointers, neutralizing nearly every advantage Kansas had over them early in the game.
Graham may be poised for a special run in March: Is there any point guard in the nation playing at a higher level than Graham right now?
How often is the NCAA Tournament defined by an elite run headed by the play of an elite point guard? If you think about Stephen Curry, Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier, then it may be time set aside a spot for Graham.
The Number: 149
Kansas will play their 149th NCAA Tournament game on Thursday. The Jayhawks’ 148 games in the event rank third all-time in NCAA history, behind Kentucky (174) and North Carolina (168).
What’s Next for Kansas Basketball
Kansas will play the winner of No. 8 Seton Hall and No. 9 NC State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Wichita.
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