Detroit falls to No. 2 seed Kansas, 65-50
By DAVE SKRETTA
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Ray McCallum and Eli Holman sat in their hotel room Friday afternoon, watching as No. 15 seed Norfolk State knocked off Missouri. When the two starters for Detroit got to the arena a few hours later, they learned fellow No. 15 seed Lehigh had also beat Duke.
"We told each other, `That could be us,'" McCallum said.
Kansas had other ideas.
Thomas Robinson bullied his way to 16 points and 13 rebounds, and the second-seeded Jayhawks cruised to a 65-50 victory over the Titans, restoring just a little bit of order to a wild day of upsets in the NCAA tournament.
"We didn't talk about it or make it a big deal, but it did wake us up a little bit," Robinson said of the No. 2 seeds going down. "It did give us a little energy for the game. It's March, and anybody is capable of getting beat right now."
Doug Anderson led the Horizon League-champion Titans with 15 points before fouling out with 11:06 left. McCallum, the son of the Detroit coach, added eight points on 4-for-15 shooting as the Titans shot 32 percent from the field and 3 for 17 from beyond the arc.
"They do a good job of not letting you get in the paint. That's one of the strengths of my game," McCallum said. "I felt like I got good looks. It was just one of those games."
Elijah Johnson added 15 points and Tyshawn Taylor had 10 for the Jayhawks (28-6), who toyed with the Titans (22-14) for the first 15 minutes before ramping up the defense. They cruised over the final 10 minutes to a Sunday night matchup with No. 10 seed Purdue.
"We went through a 20-minute stretch I thought we played really, really well," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "It was a good win, especially on a crazy day in the tournament."
This is the third time that Kansas has opened an NCAA tournament in Nebraska, and both times before it was the start of a title run. The Jayhawks played their opening games in Lincoln in 1988 and Omaha in 2008, when they won their most recent national championship.
They certainly looked like title contenders against Detroit.
The Jayhawks used a 13-2 run late in the first half to seize control, and opened the second half with a 16-4 charge that allowed them to coast the rest of the way.
"Missouri grabbed our attention more than anything," said Taylor, who battled cramps in the second half but should be 100 percent for Sunday's game. "We were sitting there watching the game chilling at the hotel. We were definitely shocked and surprised.
"Not upset," he added, "but definitely shocked and surprised."
Detroit only threated Kansas midway through the first half, when a soaring reverse dunk by Anderson gave it a 21-19 lead. Robinson answered with a dunk of his own to start a 13-2 run for the Jayhawks, and his basket with 2:22 remaining in the half made it 32-23.
The Jayhawks managed to build their advantage using some creative lineups.
Johnson sat all but eight minutes of the first half, and 7-footer Jeff Withey and fellow starter Travis Releford also sat long stretches, while seldom-used guard Naadir Tharpe was given the most minutes he'd played in a game since mid-February.
Self went back to his starters in the second half, but the Jayhawks didn't slow down.
Johnson drove to the rim for a basket, and after Anderson answered for Detroit, Robinson got loose for a bunny, Withey went to the foul line and Johnson's open 3 made it 42-26.
Detroit coach Ray McCallum had no choice but to call timeout.
It didn't do much good.
The 3-pointers started falling for Kansas in short order: Releford unloaded one for his first points of the game, Johnson hit his third, and Connor Teahan let one go in transition from just in front of the Kansas bench, making it 53-28 with just over 13 minutes remaining
Many in the arena cleared out in the closing minutes as Detroit played out its season.
The Titans were making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999, when they beat UCLA as a No. 12 seed, but the regular-season Big 12 champions made sure it was a short stay.
"I'm really proud of my guys," the elder McCallum said. "We played one of the truly great teams in the country tonight, and that really, pretty much tells the story."
Updated March 17, 2012