AWRENCE, Kan. - Fear not, Jayhawk fans. The University of Massachusetts isn't in Kansas anymore.
The Minutemen, who in recent years have developed a penchant for knocking off Top 5 teams, put a scare into No. 3 Kansas before a capacity crowd last night. But Kansas, which trailed for most of the game, outperformed UMass down the stretch to capture its 50th consecutive home victory, a hard-fought 73-71 decision.
Raef LaFrentz cleans up the garbage for the game-winner. (1.6meg .MOV)
Courtesey: ESPN / Lawrence Journal-World
Clarke got the ball back from Thomas with 3.5 seconds left, dribbled up the floor, and fired a pull-up bank shot that bounced off the rim. UMass center Lari Ketner missed on the put-back dunk as time expired.
Clarke led UMass with 22 points, and Mack had 19.
Mike Babul tries to contain Jayhawk star Paul Pierce.
And Kansas capitalized on consecutive treys by Thomas and a free throw by Eric Chonowith to take a 42-41 lead with 13:48 left. But Clarke came back with a gutsy baseline trey (his career-high fourth of the game) to give the Minutemen the lead again. Mack followed with two buckets, a baseline reverse layup and a driving layup, to increase the lead to 48-42.
Kansas pulled to 53-52, and with 6:21 left, Thomas stepped in front of a DePina pass and scored on a breakaway dunk for a 56-55 Jaywhaks lead. But Clarke responded with a 3-point play to put UMass up, 58-56, with 6:03 to go. After a free throw by LaFrentz, Ketner bagged a 3-point play to give the Minutemen a 4-point cushion.
Kansas's T.J. Pugh scored on a dunk inside and Thomas hit a trey to put the Jayhawks up, 62-61, but Mack countered with a bucket.
Kansas struck again with baskets by Thomas and Pierce to go up, 66-63. Then Mack hit a trey with 2:12 left to tie the game, 68-68.
But Ryan Robertson nailed a bucket at the other end to give Kansas a 70-68 edge. Pierce added a free throw with 1:13 left to give Kansas a 3-point cushion.
Kansas' Raef LaFrentz shocks the world with a monster slam.
Ketner responded with a short hook over future lottery pick LaFrentz, and after a Kansas turnover, Clarke hit a trey at the top of the key.
But Kansas overcame the deficit as quickly as the Minutemen built it. The Jayhawks ran off 7 straight points, including a baseline trey by Pierce, to go ahead, 11-8.
The Minutemen battled back. Ketner did a good job of competing with LaFrentz, and the UMass guards withstood the Jayhawks' backcourt pressure for good low-post feeds. Tyrone Weeks scored on a short jumper to pull the Minutemen within 1. LaFrentz eluded Ketner again for a layup on an inbounds feed to put Kansas up, 13-10, but Ketner got his revenge again, on a turnaround jumper over LaFrentz.
Then the Minutemen forged ahead again as DePina scored on a jumper and added two free throws for a 16-13 advantage. Kansas tied it at 19-19 and 21-21, but then the UMass guards put together one of the Minutemen's best runs of the season.
Mack scored inside. Clarke followed with another bucket, then Mack scored on a baseline reverse layup over two defenders while being fouled. The ensuing free throw gave the Minutemen a 28-21 lead that stunned the capacity Allen Field House crowd.
Then the Jayhawks cut into the lead at the free throw line, drawing fouls on second-chance attempts. But Clarke led another UMass surge that produced a 32-26 lead.
AWRENCE, KAN. - It was the perfect setting for a major upset. A famed gymnasium, an almost certain Hall of Fame coach, the third-ranked team in the country and two of the winningest college basketball programs in the 1990s, all appearing on national television.
All the University of Massachusetts had to do to complete the picture was play its best game of the year. Well, the Minutemen did that, but their superb effort wasn't quite good enough as Kansas University edged UMass, 73-71, Wednesday night in a heart-stopping affair played in front of 16,300 rambunctious fans at Allen Fieldhouse.
"What a game," declared Kansas guard Ryan Robertson. "(UMass) was incredible. Every time we had a run, they would come down and stop it on their next possession."
That was something the Minutemen (4-3) hadn't done all season. Unfortunately, they couldn't find one last stop in the final eight seconds. The drama began to unfold with 1:22 remaining in the game. Kansas (10-1, 50-0 at home) had just taken a 71-68 lead when Paul Pierce made the second of two free throws. UMass' guards were playing spectacular ball, however, and following a UMass timeout, sophomore Monty Mack came down the floor and drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key on the left side to tie it 71-71 with 48 seconds remaining.
Kansas then worked the clock down to 18 seconds before Pierce put up an 8-foot jump shot. It clanged off the rim, but as was often the case for the Jayhawks on this night, someone was there to get the rebound. Senior Raef LaFrentz got good position in the paint and tapped the ball in with 16 seconds left to give Kansas a 73-71 advantage.
UMass quickly brought the ball down court, but Mack was stripped by Robertson, who flipped the ball to Billy Thomas. Quicker than fans could say "it's over", however, UMass' Charlton Clarke swiped the ball from Thomas and headed for the basket. He pulled up within the 10-foot mark, but his shot missed the mark and Lari Ketner's put-back dunk attempt also was off, allowing Kansas to escape with the slim victory.
"I tried to rattle Billy Thomas and he gave it to me," Clarke said of the final stages in the game. "I heard people say, 'Shoot,' but I was 5 feet away from the three-point line. I tried to get it closer, I think I could have gotten it much closer to the basket, but big Raef LaFrentz was down there and I wasn't going to take any chances of getting it blocked. I tried to put it up as quick as possible, but it didn't go."
One person who was shocked at the last few seconds was Robertson.
"They basically ran the same play that they'd run the whole game," he said. "It was isolation on one side. I was able to pry the ball free, but the next thing I knew, the ball was coming right back this way. We were fortunate we came away with a win because it was a dangerous situation."
Dangerous indeed. Although they made some mistakes, the Minutemen seemed to have an answer for everything the Jayhawks did. Kansas went up by three points (its largest lead of the game) three times in the final 3:21, but UMass responded each time. Trailing 66-63 with 3:21 to go, UMass came right back with Ketner battling down low and eventually hitting two foul shots to reduce the deficit to one. Then, with Kansas up 68-65 with 2:40 to go, Clarke hit one of his five three-pointers to force another tie.
"We played hard," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "We had the game. We put two good halves together and we haven't done that the entire season. We made some mistakes, but that is what happens when you play freshmen and sophomores and one senior. I thought we should have won."
The Minutemen were deadly all night long, shooting 55 percent from the field (27-for-49), including a season-high seven three-pointers, but three things cost them the game:
* UMass was out-rebounded for the first time this season, 34-25.
* Kansas went to the free throw line 28 times (making 17). The Minutemen went to the charity stripe just 13 times (making 10).
* Senior Tyrone Weeks, who has had four double-doubles this season, was held to eight points and eight rebounds.
"I'm ecstatic about how we played in the second half," said Kansas coach Roy Williams. "I'm not ecstatic about the way we played, but give Bruiser credit. He had his team prepared to play."
The Jayhawks, who trailed 35-32 at intermission, shot 48 percent in the second half and out-rebounded the Minutemen 21-10 while getting 17 second-half points from Thomas, including three clutch three-pointers.
"He had that look," Williams said. "Billy was big."
Thomas kept Kansas in it early in the second half when he hit two three-pointers on successsive possessions to bring a 41-35 deficit to a 41-41 tie with 14:33 to go. Then, with his team trailing 61-59 with 4:58 to go, Thomas drained another three from 2 feet beyond the arc to give the Jayhawks a 62-61 advantage with 4:16 left.
Mike Babul comes up empty against Raef LaFrentz. (513k .AVI)
Still, Kansas drew respect from Flint.
"I was coaching against one of the best coaches in the nation," he said. "We're talking about a team that has two potential NBA stars (Pierce and LaFrentz). It was definitely a great effort on their part."
The same could be said of UMass' guards. Clarke finished with a game-high 22 points while Mack added a career-high 19 points.
"The guards hit their shots," Flint said. Charlton made 8 of 12 shots and Monty was 8 for 15. I took Charlton off the point so he could score more. He made some big shots for us."
Freshman point guard Jonathan DePina played 32 minutes and dished off eight assists. Although he had four turnovers, it was the most confident he's looked all season.
"It was an unbelievable effort for UMass to come in here and shoot 55 percent," Williams said. "The fact of the matter is that sometimes kids rise to the occasion and UMass did that."
The loss is the third against Top 20 opponents for the Minutemen. They also lost to then 15th-ranked Fresno State (82-64) and then No. 6 Purdue (82-69).
"I'm a little disappointed because I thought we won the game, but hey, this is Kansas," Flint said. "They have one of the top coaches in the country and this is one of the toughest places to play in. We gave it a great effort against the No. 3 team in the country."
UMass plays Boston College at 1 p.m. Sunday in the FleetCenter.
AWRENCE, Kan. - Consecutive home court victory No. 50 may have been heart-stopper No. 1 for Kansas.
Unranked Massachusetts, not one bit awed by the No. 3 Jayhawks or historic Allen Field House, led much of the game until Raef LaFrentz tipped in Paul Pierce's miss with 20 seconds left Wednesday night, giving Kansas a 73-71 victory.
Mike Babul tries to clear himself some room.
The Minutemen, 17-point underdogs, kept pressuring the Jayhawks behind Charlton Clarke, who hit 5-of-6 3-pointers and finished with 22 points.
Clarke canned his fifth 3-pointer with 43 seconds left to tie it at 71 before LaFrentz muscled inside for the winning tip-in.
In the final frenzied seconds, Kansas stole the ball but gave it right back to UMass and Clarke put up a 12-foot runner. Lari Ketner rebounded the miss but his tip-in was off the mark at the buzzer.
"I heard people saying shoot," said Clarke. "But I was about five feet away from the 3-point line. I just tried to put it up as quick as possible."
Billy Thomas hit several key buckets down the stretch for the Jayhawks (10-1), who were trying to avoid their second loss in three days and preserve the longest current home streak in Division I. Thomas scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half.
UMass (4-3), which led 35-32 at halftime, grabbed a 63-62 lead on Monty Mack's 10-footer. But Thomas hit from the outside with 3:33 left and Pierce, after LaFrentz blocked Ketner's shot, drilled a short jumper for a 66-63 lead.
"I think we should have won," said Mack. "We played tough through the whole game. We tied to pressure the ball and play defense. We've got to learn to pull games like this out."
It was tied again at 68 on another Mack 3-pointer before the Jayhawks went up 71-68 on a bucket by Ryan Robertson and Pierce's free throw.
"We played well enough to win," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "I'm a little disappointed. I thought we should have won the game."
Mack had 19 points for the Minutemen (4-3), while Ketner had 14. Pierce tallied 17 and LaFrentz 16 for Kansas.
Thomas and Kenny Gregory hit consecutive 3-pointers, bringing a thunderous roar from the capacity crowd and tying the game at 41 5:30 into the second half. Eric Chenowith's free throw then gave the Jayhawks their first lead since 17-16 with 12:04 left in the first half.
But back came Massachusetts as Clark hit a 3-point bucket to ignite a 7-0 spurt.
"We know what level we have to play at to compete in these games," said Flint. "It helps us grow up quick."
he Massachusetts men's basketball team came inches away from pulling off one of it's biggest upsets ever last night, and proved to a national ESPN audience that UMass basketball is indeed alive and well.
Given no chance by naysayers who rated No. 3 Kansas as much as a 17-point favorite, UMass (4-3) scratched, clawed and hung with the Jayhawks. But pre-season Player of the Year Raef LaFrentz's tip-in with 20.2 seconds on the clock gave the Jayhawks (10-1) a thrilling 73-71 win at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan. last night.
UMass, who has struggled from the field so far this season, shot 55 percent from the field and 78 percent from three-point range.
The Minutemen answered every challenge from the Jayhawks, but KU responded like the great team they are, pulling out a win in what goes down as one of the best games of the early 1997-98 college basketball season.
Both teams battled in the game's waning moments, matching each other clutch shot for clutch shot. Charlton Clarke, who scored a career-high 24 points, hit a three- pointer with 43.3 seconds left to tie the game at 71-71. LaFrentz followed with a tip-in on the other end, and UMass was left with 16 seconds to answer.
Monty Mack, who scored 17 points, had the ball stripped away, but Clarke stole the ball back in transition. Clarke threw up a runner with two seconds on the clock, and the ball hit the side of the rim. Lari Ketner grabbed the rebound, but his put-back fell short. Despite UMass coach Bruiser Flint's fervent pleas for a foul, Kansas survived for it's 50th straight home win.
"Not to take anything away from our effort, but we can't be satisfied by coming to Kansas and almost winning," Flint said. "This is a game we could have won."
The second half was a see-saw battle, but UMass held the lead until the 6:20 mark, when Billy Thomas's dunk off a KU steal gave the Jayhawks a 56-55 lead.
After matching buckets for four minutes, Mack responded with the biggest basket of his seven-game career with 2:08 to go, coldly knocking down a three-pointer to tie the game at 68-68.
UMass dominated in the first half, despite 11 turnovers. Led by Charlton Clarke's 11 points, including a perfect three-for-three from behind the arc, the Minutemen held a capacity crowd of 16,300 inside Allen Fieldhouse quiet much of the first 20 minutes.
Ajmal Basit gets 2 on the put-back. (550k .AVI)
UMass shot 65 percent from the field in the first 12 minutes, including 10 of their first 15 shots.
The Minutemen's young backcourt, which had played poorly in Saturday's narrow win over Marshall, grew up in a hurry in one of the nation's toughest arenas. Clarke hit 5-of- 6 three pointers, Mack 2-of-3, as the much maligned backcourt combined for 45 points. Jonathan DePina played a career-high 32 minutes, mostly at point guard, and scored four points and dished eight assists. The trio went 17-of 28 from the field.
Ketner scored 14 points, and Tyrone Weeks added eight points and eight rebounds, but both battled foul trouble in the second half. Weeks picked up his fourth foul at the 13:48 mark of the second half, Ketner with 7:47 to go.
LaFrentz scored 16 points and picked up 13 rebounds, and Pierce added 17 points.
assachusetts basketball fans have seen this before, time and time again. But, it never gets old.
A match-up of hoop heavyweights of which only ESPN is worthy. A game with superstars and super-hype that meant something grand to both programs.
One team still slightly in shock from their first loss of the season, the other still trying to prove they belong in the center ring.
By all rights the Minutemen had no reason to expect to come away with a win against the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks. Not in Lawrence, Kan. Not in hallowed Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Not on James Naismith Court.
Not a chance.
UMass flew out to Kansas on the coattails of an abysmal second-half performance against the sacrificial Marshall Thundering Herd, whom the Minutemen only beat 61-59.
The Jayhawks don't lose at home. They had won 49 straight games before this in front of the "Rock-Jock- Jayhawk"-screaming, rabid Kansas fans.
UMass was on the wrong end of a 17-point spread and just at the beginning of a gauntlet through which only the Minutemen would try to pass (consecutive road games against Kansas, BC, Colorado, UConn and Cincinnati). They were overmatched in a hostile environment and optimism was anything but plentiful.
Not a chance. Not on this night.
But, this was UMass basketball again, and as the contest wore on, and the grinding Minuteman defense and opportune offense wore down and frustrated the Jayhawks, there was a chance.
The Minutemen wouldn't have it any other way.
Monty Mack and Charlton Clarke were out of their minds - out of their bodies for that matter. Lari Ketner played head-to-head and shot-for-shot with Raef LaFrentz, who in all probability will be the consensus National Player of the Year when all is said and done.
And the UMass basketball team was inches away, seconds away from beating the mighty Jayhawks.
Clarke's runner with two ticks left went hard off the glass, sliding off the front rim and Ketner's follow was impeded by LaFrentz's desperate attempt to swat the rebound away. Ketner and the ball fell to the hardwood on Naismith court along with the chances for a UMass conquest.
Clarke, on this night, without a doubt stamped his imprint on UMass basketball with a performance that would only ever be witnessed in a game of this magnitude.
His Minutemen had every opportunity to die, to relent under the pressure of Kansas' greatness, the pressure of the Jayhawk fans, the pressure of being UMass in a big game.
The junior guard answered the pressure and dropped a clutch 22 points on Kansas. He emerged from the doldrums of two poor showings on his home court. He ran rampant over the Jayhawks backcourt.
He became Mike Williams with his 30-foot bank shot against Temple or any number of other heroic efforts. He became Lou Rou or Jim McCoy against Syracuse in the 1992 tournament.
He truly became a part of what basketball here has been all about since John Calipari gave birth to "UMass basketball."
Clarke and his teammates proved they were still UMass and gave notice that UMass basketball was still in the ring.
ansas' homecourt win streak is alive ... barely.
Unranked Massachusetts hit an uncanny and uncharacteristic 55.1 percent of its shots in a pulsating 73-71 loss to the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Thanks in large part to senior Billy Thomas, who tied a career-high with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and also plucked four steals, the Jayhawks won their 50th consecutive home game, the longest current streak in the country.
KU overcame a UMass team that hit seven of nine three-pointers after making just 25.6 percent through six games.
"It was an unbelievable effort from UMass. To come in here and shoot 55 percent like that, I'm befuddled," KU coach Roy Williams said.
The Minutemen (4-3), who entered as 42.2 percent shooters, canned 27 of 49 shots for 55.1 percent.
"I thought we were ready to play defensively. At times we were good defensively, got a hand up, they still made 'em. The fact of the matter is sometimes kids rise to the occasion like UMass did tonight," Williams said.
The Jayhawks survived a three-point onslaught from the Minutemen.
UMass guards Charlton Clarke (22 points, five of six threes) and Monty Mack (19 points, two of three threes) entered as 27.8 and 28.6 percent shooters from beyond the arc.
"I congratulate them, yet I am ecstatic how competitive we were down the stretch," Williams said.
The final minute showed the competitiveness of both teams. The game was tied at 71 when KU's Paul Pierce (17 points, six rebounds) missed a running one-handed shot that was tipped in by Raef LaFrentz at :20.
"It's all reaction," said LaFrentz, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds, including 11 boards the second half. "I'm not going to tell you I saw an opening here and dodged this guy, that guy. It was all reaction."
Down 73-71, UMass inbounded and called time at :16. Guard Jonathan DiPina dribbed out front, then delivered to Mack, who penetrated. KU's Ryan Robertson knocked the ball from Mack. The ball was retrieved by Thomas with eight ticks left. Thomas dribbled away, then made an ill-advised pass to Pierce past midcourt.
"You hate that it ends like that at the end because we had stolen the ball. To throw the sucker away like that, that's stupid," Williams said.
Thomas, who saved the day by scoring 17 points the second half, played in pain. He had an ingrown toenail -- big toe, right foot -- removed after the game and was unavailable for comment.
"Billy was big for us," Williams said, reiterating the final pass was illogical. "We got a 3-on-2 and make just a silly pass. You can't do those kind of things. You've got the basketball there. You eat it before you throw it away. It was a mistake.
"They had to try to make a tough shot. On the rebound, the horn had already gone off. If that had gone in it would not have counted."
KU, which trailed 28-21 with 8:49 left in the first half, lagged 35-32 at halftime. The Jayhawks, who hit 45.6 percent of their shots, missed six of their first seven second-half shots to trail 41-35 at 15:47.
KU received a boost from Thomas, who hit two straight threes, tying the game with 14:28 left. Eric Chenowith followed with a free throw and the Jayhawks had a 42-41 lead at 13:48, KU's first lead since 17-16.
However, Clarke scored five points and Mack two, and UMass regained a 48-42 lead at 12:41.
"The story was UMass. They wouldn't quit. They were down, came back and kept hitting humongous threes," KU point guard Ryan Robertson said.
Kansas trailed 61-57 at 5:25. Pugh dunked and Thomas hit a three, giving KU a 62-61 lead at 4:16. Mack responded with a driving seven-footer off the glass at 3:57.
Thomas scored a two-pointer at 3:31, and Pierce hit a shot at 3:14 as KU led 66-63. Ketner hit a shot, then Thomas answered as KU led, 68-65 at 2:32.
Mack iced a three at 2:08, but Robertson answered with a basket and Pierce a free throw and the Jayhawks led 71-68 at 1:13. Clarke swished a three-pointer at :43, tying the game at 71.
That led to the furious final 20 seconds.
"You gain more from winning close games and showing you can come through. At the 19-second time out I said, 'We've practiced about 35 days. We've played 4-on-4 defensive group work every day and that's what we do it for, this one possession," Williams said of UMass' penultimate possession. "Again Billy and Ryan did a good job (stealing ball)."
The Jayhawks will take today off, then practice Friday in preparation for Saturday's 7:05 p.m. home game against Middle Tennessee State.
-- Gary Bedore's phone message number is 832-7186. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
|Kansas Jayhawks (#3)||73|
MASSACHUSETTS (71) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Babul 11 0-1 0-0 1-1 1 3 0 Weeks 32 4-6 0-0 2-8 0 4 8 Ketner 29 4-10 6-9 2-4 0 4 14 Clarke 36 8-12 1-1 0-1 2 3 22 Mack 34 8-15 1-1 0-3 1 2 19 DePina 32 1-1 2-2 0-0 8 2 4 Kirkland 7 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Basit 19 2-3 0-0 3-6 0 3 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 27-49 10-13 8-23 12 22 71 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.551, FT-.769. 3-Point Goals: 7-9, .778 (Clarke 5-6, Mack 2-3). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 3 (Ketner 2, Basit). Turnovers: 20 (Clarke 4, DePina 4, Ketner 3, Babul 2, Basit 2, Mack 2, Weeks 2). Steals: 5 (Clarke 2, Weeks 2, Basit). KANSAS (73) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Pierce 35 5-14 6-9 5-6 2 1 17 LaFrentz 35 6-16 4-6 9-13 1 4 16 Pugh 31 2-4 0-2 4-6 0 2 4 Robertson 37 2-4 4-6 0-2 7 2 8 Thomas 26 9-14 0-0 0-1 2 0 21 Gregory 14 2-3 0-1 0-0 0 0 4 Bradford 5 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 McGrath 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Chenowith 14 0-2 3-4 1-2 0 5 3 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 26-57 17-28 19-31 12 14 73 _______________________________________________ Percentages: FG-.456, FT-.607. 3-Point Goals: 4-12, .333 (Pierce 1-2, Robertson 0-1, Thomas 3-8, Gregory 0-1). Team rebounds: 3. Blocked shots: 6 (LaFrentz 3, Pierce, Pugh, Gregory). Turnovers: 14 (Pugh 4, Robertson 4, Gregory 3, LaFrentz 2, Thomas). Steals: 9 (Thomas 4, LaFrentz 3, Pierce, Robertson). __________________________________ Massachusetts 35 36 - 71 Kansas 32 41 - 73 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 16,300. Officials: Tom O'Neill, Steve Welmer, Jim Burr.