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March Madness

#1 Kansas rides defense to Sweet 16 win over Providence

#1 Kansas rides defense to Sweet 16 win over Providence

CHICAGO — Remy Martin scored a game-high 23 points, Jalen Wilson added 16 points and 11 rebounds and top-seeded Kansas harassed fourth-seeded Providence en route to a 66-61 victory in an NCAA Tournament Midwest Region semifinal on Friday.

Kansas (31-6) advances to meet the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between 10th-seeded Miami and 11th-seeded Iowa State in the regional final on Sunday afternoon. The victory was #2,534 in Kansas program history, snapping a tie with Kentucky for the most in college basketball.

Providence (27-6) trailed by 13 points with 14:53 to go but used a 21-8 run to tie the game before taking its first lead at 48-47 on a Noah Horchler layup with 5:49 remaining.

The Jayhawks responded with a 7-0 run to regain control, holding off the Friars to move on to the school’s first Elite Eight since 2018.

Al Durham paced Providence with 21 points to go with seven rebounds, while Horchler contributed 10 points and eight boards. The Friars shot 48.5 percent in the second half but 33.8 percent for the game. Kansas finished at 39.3 percent from the floor, including 2-for-14 from 3-point range, while boasting a 43-38 rebounding edge.

Ochai Agbaji, a Naismith Player of the Year finalist, scored just five points for Kansas but blocked four shots, matching Mitch Lightfoot for the team lead in blocks.

Kansas went into the locker room with a 26-17 halftime lead, overcoming 35.3 percent shooting by forcing the Friars into a 20 percent showing from the field, including 1-for-13 struggles from long range. It was Providence’s lowest-scoring half in an NCAA Tournament game and the program’s lowest-scoring half, period, since 1966.

Durham drilled Providence’s first trey of the night with 1:55 remaining before halftime. The Jayhawks managed just four points over the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half but still were up by nine at the break.

While the Jayhawks were just 2-for-10 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes, they created distance behind the latest star turn from Martin. With the rest of his teammates shooting 6-for-25 in the first half, the former Arizona State point guard was 6-for-9 and scored 13 points.

–Kevin Druley, Field Level Media

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