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Kansas wins a tough one

Top-seeded Jayhawks finally put down Southern Illinois, 61-58, and will face UCLA in regional final.

March 23, 2007|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

SAN JOSE — Top-seeded Kansas outlasted No. 4 Southern Illinois, 61-58, on Thursday at HP Pavilion but might need all the ice left in Silicon Valley to be ready to play again Saturday.

In a bruising game in which floor burns should have been kept as a statistic, the Jayhawks advanced to meet UCLA in the West Regional final.

Brandon Rush's driving layup with 24.9 seconds left gave Kansas the three-point lead it kept to the finish, although Southern Illinois had its chances.

Jamaal Tatum missed a three-point attempt that could have tied the game in the closing seconds.

"It felt good, the release felt good, I didn't make it," Tatum said. "That's basketball."

The game still wasn't over.

Teammate Randal Falker grabbed Tatum's missed shot but lost control of the ball, which led to Kansas sophomore Julian Wright streaking toward the basket.

Wright was fouled with two seconds left, and needed only to make one of his two free throws to clinch the game. He missed both shots, Matt Shaw grabbed the rebound for Southern Illinois, but teammate Tony Young's long three-point attempt at the buzzer came up short.

"We did everything we needed to do to win the game," Southern Illinois Coach Chris Lowery said.

Kansas (33-4) won despite scoring nearly 19 points less than its season average, and making only 10 of 19 free throws.

Southern Illinois, which ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring defense, played tenaciously for 40 minutes.

The school's nickname is the Salukis, an Egyptian hunting dog, but on Thursday the Salukis looked more like junkyard dogs.

"Whoever plays Southern Illinois is not going to look good," Kansas Coach Bill Self said.

The Salukis stayed in the game despite shooting 37%, making only 21 of 57 shots.

Tatum led Southern Illinois with 19 points despite making only one of his eight three-point shots. Young, who got in late foul trouble, added 14. Falker had 11 points and nine rebounds.

Rush, with 12 points, was the only Kansas player to score in double figures. Three Jayhawks -- Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur -- had nine points.

Southern Illinois (29-7) had advanced to the round of 16 for the third time in school history.

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