Jayhawks paint a path to title game

The Kansas Jayhawks rallied once again with another late-game surge to survive and advance in this year’s NCAA tournament. This time Kansas ended the game on an 8-3 run to complete a 64-62 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Jayhawks scored the final six points of the game versus Purdue in the round of 32 to secure a 63-60 victory; against North Carolina in the Elite Eight, Kansas finished with a 12-0 run en route to an 80-67 win.

Kansas will be playing in its ninth national championship game and first since winning it all in 2008. This is the Jayhawks' fifth title game in the last 25 seasons, the second most during that span behind Duke’s six appearances.

Painting a victory

The Jayhawks muscled their way to the win, outscoring Ohio State 32-16 in the paint. Kansas had a 42-30 rebounding advantage, grabbing as many defensive boards as the Buckeyes recorded overall.

2012 Final Four In The Paint

Kansas also used its intimidating paint defense to generate easy fast-break buckets. The Jayhawks made 7 of 8 field goal attempts and outscored Ohio State 19-8 in transition, with 10 of the 19 points coming off blocks.

Kansas scored nine of its 19 transition points in the final five minutes during its late rally, and has now outscored its opponents 20-9 in transition in the last five minutes in the tournament.

Jeff Withey had just four points but made a huge impact on the defensive end with a Final Four-record seven blocks. Withey now has 27 blocks in this tournament, two shy of the record set by Joakim Noah in 2006.

Thomas Robinson led the Jayhawks with 19 points, but struggled around the basket. He missed 9 of 13 shots and scored only eight points in the paint, but connected on 4 of 5 jumpers outside the painted area.

Buckeyes busted down low

Ohio State took a nine-point halftime lead thanks to a strong 46 percent shooting effort, including 5-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. However, the Buckeyes went cold in the second half, connecting on just 3 of 12 3-point attempts, and made only five shots inside the arc in the final 20 minutes.

Worst Single-Game FG Pct
Ohio State in NCAA Tournament

Overall, Ohio State shot 33 percent in the paint, its lowest field goal percentage in the paint over the last four NCAA tournaments. Kansas blocked eight of Ohio State’s 24 paint attempts, including five shots by Jared Sullinger.

William Buford was the lone star for Ohio State, leading the team with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Buford had made just 29.5 percent of his field goal attempts and averaged 11.8 points per game in the Buckeyes’ four previous tournament games. He finished his career with 1,990 points, tying Jerry Lucas for the third-most points in school history.

Stat of the game

Monday’s title-game matchup between Kansas and Kentucky will be just the second time that an SEC team has faced a Big 12/Big 8 team in the national championship game. The other instance was in 1951, when Kentucky beat Kansas State 68-58.