Wichita State hadn't beaten Kansas since January 1987, when Larry Brown was the Jayhawks' coach. The Shockers ended that streak of futility — and vindicated their desire to play their in-state rivals — with a huge 78-65 win in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Tekele Cotton's 19 points led all scorers, and Wichita State got 17 points, six rebounds, and six assists from senior point guard Fred VanVleet. All five Shockers starters scored in double figures, compared to just two Kansas starters, and Wayne Selden, Jr. went scoreless for just the third time this season.
And the game really wasn't that close, despite intensity on display from both teams. Kansas led by eight with five minutes to play in the first half, but Wichita State closed on a 13-2 run to take a 29-26 lead to the break. After a Frank Mason III layup cut the deficit to one on the first possession of the second half, Cotton went on a personal 5-0 run, and Wichita State never let the Jayhawks get within four points from that moment on — they led by 16 before a Devonte' Graham three in the final seconds set the final score.
The win propels Wichita State to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in three years under Gregg Marshall, and third time since 2006, when Mark Turgeon guided the Shockers to their first Sweet Sixteen in 25 years. Kansas, meanwhile, failed to make it to the second weekend of play as a No. 2 seed for the second straight season.
3 things we learned
1. Wichita State can really shoot if Wesselmania runs wild on you. The Shockers made 10 of their 20 threes on the day, helping to keep Kansas at bay with timely triples. No player made more than Evan Wessel's four — and the mess-mopped junior had made fewer than a third of his threes on the year coming into Sunday's game. (Despite being a 6'4 guard, Wessel also led the Shockers with nine rebounds.)
2. Offensive rebounds only help so much. Kansas snagged 14 offensive boards, more than a third of the available caroms on their own misses. But the Jayhawks couldn't capitalize on that domination of the glass, with Landen Lucas and Kelly Oubre combining for eight offensive rebounds and just 11 points. The absence of Cliff Alexander, the Jayhawks' NCAA limbo-bound best rebounder, will probably be a sore spot for Kansas fans over their longer-than-anticipated offseason.
3. The Shockers were hungry -- and fearless. It's no shock, no pun intended, that a Wichita State team with several players left over from a core that made the 2013 Final Four and went undefeated in the 2013-14 regular season would have no fear of blue-blood Kansas. But the Shockers' desire to win this game manifested on the court, with bodies in black jerseys flying all over the floor, recording 10 steals and seeming to dominate 50-50 balls. Kansas seemed exasperated, and Bill Self without answers, as the Shockers refused to fold in the second half.