March Madness: No. 5 Gonzaga absolutely dominates No. 4 Kansas in second half to advance to Sweet 16

Gonzaga is back in the Sweet 16 again.

The No. 5 Bulldogs sprinted away from No. 4 Kansas to start the second half on the way to an 89-68 win over the Jayhawks in the Midwest Region. After Kansas led 44-43 at halftime, the Jayhawks took a four-point lead less than 30 seconds into the half. From there, Gonzaga dominated. The Zags outscored Kansas 37-6 until the six-minute mark in a flurry that included a 14-0 run and a 13-0 run.

Gonzaga has now won at least two NCAA tournament games for the past nine NCAA tournaments. You have to go back to 2014, when Gonzaga was a No. 8 seed, to find the last time the Bulldogs didn’t make the Sweet 16.

Kansas was absolutely overmatched on the defensive end. It’s a sentence you don’t often read about a Bill Self team. But with leading scorer and top perimeter defender Kevin McCullar Jr. out for the NCAA tournament, the Jayhawks didn’t have a stopper on the wing. They also had no answers for Gonzaga’s pick-and-roll, either.

The Bulldogs made it a clear point from the opening tip to target Kansas center Hunter Dickinson whenever possible. And Dickinson and Kansas weren’t able to adjust. Gonzaga repeatedly got open 3-pointers or shots at the basket as Kansas players were slow to rotate.

Kansas shot well from deep in the first half

The Jayhawks had a lead at the break thanks to seven 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Nick Timberlake’s 3-pointer to open the second half was the most Kansas had in a single game since a January win against Oklahoma State.

The hot shooting didn’t continue. Kansas made just one 3-pointer the rest of the game after Timberlake gave the Jayhawks a 47-43 lead.

Kansas also benefitted from the absence of Gonzaga star big man Graham Ike in the first half. Ike sat out much of the opening period after he got his second foul with eight minutes to go. Ike was red-hot to start the second half when he was back on the court and was a catalyst for Gonzaga’s surge.

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