South Regional: Jayhawks use second-half surge to topple Williams, Heels again

Rosario, Gators roll up big lead, hold off Gophers

Monday March 25, 2013 9:35 AM
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ROBERT WILLETT | RALEIGH (N.C.) NEWS & OBSERVER
Jeff Withey of Kansas blocks a shot by James Michael McAdoo of North Carolina in the first half. Withey finished with five blocks.

Kansas 70, North Carolina 58: North Carolina coach Roy Williams walked out of the tunnel last yesterday, well after his players and assistants, with a police officer beside him until he reached the hardwood floor of the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Slowly, politely, Kansas fans stood and cheered for Williams, a former Jayhawks coach.

It was not overwhelming love, but it would do, and the impending South Regional game in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 trumped the drama of will-they-cheer-or-boo anyway.

Frenetic and inefficient offense followed until two minutes into the second half, when Travis Releford sank the first Kansas three-pointer of the tournament after 13 consecutive misses over roughly a game and a half. Suddenly the Jayhawks, who trailed 30-21 at halftime, came to life, scoring 31 points in 91/2 minutes on the way to the 12-point victory.

“They were phenomenal in the second half,” Williams said of Kansas. “In the second half, we didn’t have the same energy, and they picked theirs up a little bit more. They started making shots, and we couldn’t stop them.”

Releford and center Jeff Withey combined for 20 points in the first 8:24 after the break, making 10 of 11 shots from the field as top-seeded Kansas (31-5) advanced to the Sweet 16 against Michigan on Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Williams has faced Kansas three times in the NCAA Tournament since returning to North Carolina, and he has lost all three.

“We weren’t ourselves at all in the first half,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We played sped-up, nervous. And our basketball IQ in the first half wasn’t very good. In the second half, we were a better team.”

Releford finished with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and Withey added 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks. Kansas outrebounded the Tar Heels 50-36.

P.J. Hairston led North Carolina (25-11) with 15 points.

Florida 78, Minnesota 64: Mike Rosario scored 25 points and third-seeded Florida used an overpowering first half to take a 21-point lead, then withstood a rally from 11th-seeded Minnesota that turned the South Regional third-round game in Austin, Texas, from a laugher into a grinder.

“The message that coach (Billy Donovan) gave us, and gave me personally, was ‘You’ve got to go out there and compete,’ ” said Rosario, who was 8 of 12 from the field and 6 of 9 on three-pointers. “In the second half there, we dug deep.”

As a result, the Gators (28-7) will take on No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet 16 on Friday in Arlington, Texas.

Andre Hollins, who had

53 points in two games, led Minnesota (21-13) with 25.

The Gators shot 65 percent from the field and led 48-27 at halftime before Hollins’ three-point shooting sparked the Gophers in the second half. Hollins made three three-pointers in an 11-2 run that pulled Minnesota within seven points, 53-46, with

12 minutes to play.

Rosario’s last three-pointer, with 3 minutes left, pushed the Gators’ lead back to 16.

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