UMass Pulls Off Upset Against #25/23 Kansas, 61-60
Dec. 13, 2008
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -As an assistant coach at Memphis last season, Derek Kellogg watched Kansas guard Mario Chalmers take a handoff on the wing and hit a 3-pointer that sent the national championship game into overtime.
Faced with a similar situation, this time as Massachusetts' head coach, Kellogg knew what was coming - and his team defended it perfectly.
Tony Gaffney got a piece of Sherron Collins' final shot and Massachusetts survived a mad scramble in the closing seconds, holding off No. 25 Kansas for a 61-60 victory Saturday.
"They ran the same play they did in San Antonio," Kellogg said. "I kind of told my guys what play they would run."
UMass (3-6) had trouble pulling out close games this season, with four of its six losses by seven points or less. The Minutemen appeared to be headed for another disappointment after watching a 14-point first-half lead get trimmed to one on a long 3-pointer by Collins with 20 seconds.
Chris Lowe had a chance to push the lead to three, but missed two free throws with 20 seconds left. Kansas had a final shot.
In the national championship game, Collins dribbled up the court and handed the ball off to Chalmers, who hit a tying 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left. Kansas went on to win 75-68 in overtime for its fifth national championship.
This time, Collins kept the ball and drove to the basket, flipping up a tough left-handed shot that Gaffney partially blocked. Kansas guard Conner Teahan grabbed the rebound, decided he couldn't get a shot off, then tried to flip it to the top of the key.
Tyrel Reed ended up with the ball, but it was too late to get a shot off before the buzzer, setting off a celebration by the Minutemen near midcourt.
Ricky Harris had 18 points, Lowe added 12 and Massachusetts improved to 5-1 against defending national champions.
"We always joke around because the ball never seems like it trickles our way at the end of the game," said Gaffney, who had 13 rebounds, six blocked shots, three assists and three steals. "We joke around about the basketball gods not being with us. I guess they were today. It's a great feeling."
Kansas (7-2), back in the Top 25 after being knocked out last week, came out flat, making sloppy passes and taking quick shots to fall behind by 14. The Jayhawks rallied to make it close, but couldn't hit the shots down the stretch and saw their 30-game home winning streak end.
Cole Aldrich had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Kansas, which shot 34 percent overall and 5-of-23 from 3-point range. Collins, the Jayhawks' leading scorer, had 19 points on 6-of-21 shooting, including 1-for-7 on 3-pointers.
"We deserved to get beat today - they controlled the game today," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "There's a lot of times you don't deserve to win and you do, and there's a lot of times you don't deserve to lose and you do. This is one of those games where UMass controlled the game."
The game was played at the Sprint Center, about 45 minutes from KU's campus. It was still considered a home game for the Jayhawks and felt like it, with most of near-sellout crowd of 17,252 wearing red and blue, cheering like it was Allen Fieldhouse.
They spent most of the first 20 minutes grumbling, watching Kansas play its worst half of the season.
Making weak passes and struggling against the physical Minutemen, Kansas went more than 7 minutes without a field goal and shot 8-for-28. Gaffney had something to do with it, blocking four shots by halftime, and the Jayhawks didn't help themselves with 10 turnovers, most on ill-advised passes that had Self screaming from the bench.
Kansas also had numerous defensive breakdowns, giving UMass uncontested jumpers from the top of the key, 3-pointers from the corners. The Minutemen took advantage, getting eight points from Harris during a 16-1 run that put them up 32-18 with just over 3 minutes left.
"There's not just one person you can blame," Aldrich said. "We lost it as a team at the beginning when we didn't come out and play."
Kansas finally came to life late in the first half.
Sparked by Reed's 3-pointer from the wing, the Jayhawks started hitting shots and picked up the defensive pressure, pulling within 36-30 by halftime.
Kansas kept the momentum going in the second half, chipping away until Reed hit a 3-pointer to give the Jayhawks a 46-45 lead, setting up a back-and-forth final 12 1/2 minutes.
This time, UMass was able to finish it off.
"We're starting to understand what it takes to win basketball games," Harris said.