KANSAS 80, CLEMSON 76
OMAHA, Neb. — When it was all said and done, Brad Brownell put his hands on his hips and sighed. He stood at midcourt, high fived every one of his Clemson players' hands after the final buzzer rang and swiftly walked to the locker room. A couple of Clemson players waved to the crowd to say thank you. But for the most part, it was a prompt exit off the floor for a Clemson men's basketball team that mustered some momentum, yet came up short as time expired.
Friday night in Omaha, Neb., top-seeded Kansas knocked off No.5-seeded Clemson 80-76, covering the exact spread that Las Vegas odds projected for this matchup. The Tigers' season, one that became historic for its success, is over.
The Jayhawks had a similar type of night — at least through the first 30 minutes— to the one Clemson had in the Round of 32 against Auburn: everything clicked. Kansas shot 46.7 percent from the field for the night and led by as many as 20 toward the beginning of second half as the predominantly Jayhawks crowd went ballistic. Clemson looked rattled. Kansas controlled the pace.
It got ugly midway through the second half and it seemed over long before it actually was.
In order to beat Kansas, first, Clemson was going to need elite play from its guards and second, Elijah Thomas was going to have to stay out of foul trouble. Senior guard Gabe DeVoe put together the performance of his career, scoring 31 points in his final game in a Clemson jersey. But fellow guards Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed, who have been so dynamic for the Tigers all postseason, combined for just four points at the half and did not get going fast enough before Clemson eventually ran out of time. Thomas had two quick fouls at the half and the Jayhawks came out of the break with nine unanswered points via three 3-point balls in the first two minutes of the second half.
Clemson cut the deficit to single digits down the stretch, trailing by as few as six after a thunderous Shelton Mitchell dunk with 2:27 to play, but the Jayhawks pulled away with free throws as time expired on the Tigers' improbable run.