Gonzaga takes McCullar-less Kansas to the woodshed to advance to another Sweet 16 | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / June 18.
  • Gonzaga takes McCullar-less Kansas to the woodshed to advance to another Sweet 16

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    The minute Kansas announced last week that leading scorer Kevin McCullar had been ruled out for the NCAA Tournament with a knee injury, the clock was ticking on the Jayhawks’ season.

    It was only a matter of time before the sand ran out.

    The end came when No. 5 Gonzaga took No. 4 Kansas to the woodshed in an 89-68 rout in the second round in the Midwest Region on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

    “Whatever team played good defense was going to win this thing, and fortunately it was us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said on CBS.

    “Our guys had some resiliency there and came out and executed our plan, and our offense was clicking for 40 minutes, which is a great sign.”

    Gonzaga, which improved to 16-2 since Jan. 18, shot a sizzling 60% from the field and 53% from deep, while holding the Jayhawks to 39% and 41%, respectively.

    The Bulldogs (27-7) will meet the winner between No. 1 Purdue and No. 8 Utah State in the Sweet 16 on Friday in Detroit. It is the ninth straight trip to at least the Sweet 16 for Few’s club. They are 27-8 in the NCAA Tournament since 2015.

    “Nine straight Sweet 16s is just a testament to all the great players that have come through here and have been such awesome people,” Few said. “That’s something.”

    Kansas (23-11) led 44-43 at the break but the Bulldogs just steamrolled them in the second half, 46-24.

    Anton Watson led six Zags in double-figures with 21 points while Nolan Hickman added 17 and Ben Gregg and Graham Ike 15 apiece.

    Making all the Bulldogs look good was Ryan Nembhard, who blew off a rough shooting night (1 for 6) and finished with 12 assists to become the program’s career leader in that category.

    “Ryan’s been at the highest level for the last eight weeks,” Few said. “He’s just got our throttle all the way down and he’s making great decisions.”

    Hunter Dickinson, the No. 1 transfer during the last cycle, shot just 6-of-15 for 15 points for Kansas, while struggling to defend Gonzaga’s bigs.

    “Hunt gave us everything he had,” Bill Self said. “But that was one tired dude out there today.”

    The Jayhawks’ last three losses of the year were by a combined 71 points.

    (The AP contributed reporting)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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