The Clemson Tigers turned the ball over 12 times and could not find an answer for Kansas’s Udoka Azubuike, as the Jayhawks advanced to the Elite Eight with an 80-76 victory on Friday night in Omaha.
Azubuike, who started for the first time in the tournament, had his way inside with the Tigers, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Flanking the Kansas big man were Malik Newman who scored 17 points and Devonte Graham who added 16.
The Tigers went through a six-minute long stretch in the first half without a field goal, with unforced errors leading to Jayhawk chances. Clemson had the game within one possession at the 7:13 mark, but failed to keep it that close for the rest of the half.
Marcquise Reed drove for a layup to cut the lead to eight points with 1:01 to play, but officials whistled Elijah Thomas for a flagrant-one fould behind the play. The infraction spurted a Jayhawks mini-run, giving Kansas a 13-point lead at halftime.
Kansas grew the lead to as many as 20 in the second half before Clemson made a final bid with a 16-6 run in the waning seconds. Shelton Mitchell made a layup to foul out Azubuike and stole the ensuing inbound pass en route to a fast-break slam dunk to cut the lead to six. The Tigers never got closer than four points, as the three-point shots stopped falling and Kansas made its free throws.
Unfortunately for Clemson, the bearer of most of its offense also was its biggest offender in the turnover department. Gabe DeVoe led the Tigers with a career-high 31 points, but also committed a team-high 5 turnovers.
The Jayhawks shot 10-of-22 from beyond three, compared to 6-of-20 for the Tigers.
Clemson’s players reflected after the loss:
Tigers Head Coach Brad Brownell addressed the media with pride for his team:
Kansas advances to the Elite Eight to face Duke on Sunday, while Clemson’s season ends at 25-10.