Mar 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson (0) shoots as North Carolina State Wolfpack guard/forward C.J. Williams (21) trails during the first half of the semifinals in the midwest region of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
Second-seeded Kansas survived a late-rally from No. 11 seed N.C. State to advance to the Midwest regional final against North Carolina.
No. 2-seeded Kansas battled back from a one-point halftime deficit to defeat upset-minded N.C State 60-57 in a Midwest region semifinal Friday night.
The loss by the No. 11-seeded Wolfpack, coupled with the earlier defeats of Ohio and Xavier, means that there are no longer any double-digit seeds remaining in the tournament.
National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson led the way for the Jayhawks, scoring 18 points and snatching 15 rebounds. His effort helped alleviate the fact that senior guard Tyshawn Taylor was just 2-of-14 from the field, including 0-for-6 from three. Center Jeff Withey anchored the defense with a staggering ten blocks.
Up 58-50 with less than two minutes to play, Kansas appeared to be in total control of the game. N.C. State then responded with seven straight points and had the ball down one with 30 seconds to play. Wolfpack sharpshooter Scott Wood missed a clean look at a three and then, after tracking down the long rebound, C.J. Leslie had his driving lay-up blocked by Withey.
Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one on the other end, but the ball was knocked out-of-bounds by the Wolfpack. Elijah Johnson then scored on a lay-up to put the Jayhawks ahead by three. N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried drew up a play during a timeout to try and get Wood a look from three, but a high pass resulted in him coming down with the ball out-of-bounds.
N.C. State had one final chance to send the game into overtime after Robinson missed another Kansas free-throw, but Richard Howell's desperation shot came up well short.
The Wolfpack were actually the team that took control of the game early, taking advantage of some poor Kansas shooting to gain an early 9-1 lead. They pushed their lead to double digits before the Jayhawks scored their second field goal, but KU then responded with six unanswered points. Leslie's jumper with 21 seconds left in the half allowed N.C. State to take a 33-32 lead into the locker room.
The Jayhawks responded after the break by limiting State to just ten points over the first ten minutes of the second half. They maintained an advantage of at least seven from that point up until the final Wolfpack flurry.
Kansas advances to face top seed North Carolina in the Elite Eight despite connecting on just 1-of-14 three-point attempts. They also shot a horrendous 55 percent (11-of-20) from the free-throw line.
Leslie led N.C. State with 18 points, although just six of that total came in the second half.
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