UNLV
4Kansas
56 - 75 Final
  for this game

Top-seeded Kansas stifles UNLV

Mar 23, 2008 - 3:10 AM
OMAHA, Nebraska (Ticker) -- In a battle of tight defenses, Kansas won out.

Mario Chalmers scored 17 points and the top-seeded Jayhawks overcame a sluggish start to beat eighth-seeded Nevada-Las Vegas, 75-56, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional on Saturday.

Russell Robinson and Brandon Rush added 13 and 12 points, respectively, for Kansas (33-3), which advanced to the "Sweet 16" next Friday to play the winner of Villanova and Siena.

"I think we did a good job turning things around when things weren't going good for us," Robinson said. "They did a good job pressuring. Give them credit. But the main thing is you've got to come together as a team and be able to execute late. We got the job done."

Kansas held the Runnin' Rebels to just three field goals in the first 17 minutes of the second half and limited them to 27 percent shooting (12-of-45) overall for the game.

"We really defended," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "Our first-shot defense was really great, when we didn't foul them, which was every other possession. But I thought it was a good, solid, grind-it-out win."

"Kansas is a very good ballclub and they're also capable of being versatile," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "They can go with a lot of different options, a lot of different combinations."

Wink Adams scored 25 points, including 15-of-17 shooting from the free-throw line, to lead UNLV (27-8), which had limited Kent State to 10 first-half points in its first-round win.

"Our strong point is getting to the basket," Adams said. "We just wanted to do the same game plan as we did throughout the season. I was able to get to the goal and get to the free-throw line."

The Jayhawks took control with a 14-3 run midway through the second half that was capped by Sherron Collins' layup, stretching their lead to 60-44 with 7:46 to play. Collins had six points and Robinson scored eight during the spurt.

"They pressured out so far it just opened up lanes for us to drive," Collins said. "The guards had to get in a lane and make something happen, whether it was getting a shot for ourselves or getting our big men an easy basket."

"When they pressured us out it played to our advantage," Robinson said. "It was open and we took it."

Kansas went scoreless for the first 3:19 of the game before finding the shooting touch. The Jayhawks made 8-of-11 shots over the next eight minutes to take a 17-15 lead with 8:50 left in the first half.

"We wanted to move the ball inside, but their pressure was good enough that we didn't really take advantage of our size inside like I thought we could," Self said. "The best we executed the entire game was when we really played slow and really utilized the clock."

UNLV was similarly cold to start, missing five of their first six shots and scoring just three points in the first 6:32 of the game.

Kansas led, 34-29, at the half, boosted by 56 percent shooting (14-of-25) from the floor and holding UNLV to just 8-of-27 shooting (29.6 percent).

"Kansas is, as a whole, a great defensive ballclub," Adams said. "They stress defense just like we do. They have some 6-8 guys that shot defend well. Tonight their length was very effective against us and kind of had our shooting percentage down."

Chalmers paced the Jayhawks with nine points at the break, matching Terry Curtis' team-leading nine for the Runnin' Rebels.

Kansas led throughout the second half, although UNLV kept it close mostly by making their free throws. The Runnin' Rebels converted 27-of-34 from the stripe for the game.

"We knew they were going to pressure us," Chalmers said. "We just tried to drive against that pressure and penetrate and kick, or try and get to the basket. We were able to do that."

Darnell Jackson contributed eight points and nine rebounds for the Jayhawks, who shot 58 percent (29-of-50) from the floor.

Kansas has reached the third round of the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in the last eight years.