Wildcats obliterate Jayhawks

James Evans

As the final buzzer sounded, the Wachovia Center’s court filled with jubilant fans on Saturday. Villanova had just completed the biggest upset of the college basketball season, defeating No. 2 Kansas by 21 points, to win convincingly 83-62.

The outcome of the game was evident by the two benches late in the second half. Villanova’s bench cheering and jumping with excitement as shot after shot went in; and Coach Jay Wright walking up and down the sidelines looking on with pride.

The Kansas bench was dejected, hands in laps and looking on in amazement as the lead swelled toward 30 points. Kansas coach Bill Self could only hold his face in his hands, as he slowly watched his undefeated season slip away.

The buzz of the crowd began as the arena began to fill and from the opening tip the fans started to cheer, and as the ‘Cats began to build their lead the crowd grew louder and louder.

Finally, when Randy Foye connected on a three-pointer to give the ‘Cats a 29-18 lead just ten minutes in, the WAC (the Wachovia Center) exploded.

‘Nova looked as though it was about to blow Kansas out. However, Kansas made a run, highlighted by freshman Kyle Lowry’s ejection for punching Kansas guard Jeff Hawkins in the stomach.

“He’s [Lowry] a good kid and he admitted what he did right after it,” Wright said, about Lowry’s punch. “He feels bad about it, he had just lost his composure.”

The Jayhawks had cut the lead to just four and looked as though they would be going into the half with momentum. However, after a missed field goal, Marcus Austin grabbed the board and found guard Mike Nardi wide open for a three to give ‘Nova a 41-34 lead going into half.

The second half opened and ‘Nova jumped on Kansas right away, forcing them into turnovers and bad shots. Kansas started the second half 1-6 from the field with six turnovers, and ‘Nova, especially Allan Ray, took advantage of the turnovers.

Ray, who led the team in points with 27, was kept in check for the most of the first half with just seven points. But Ray scored 20 in the second half, including some impressive step back threes to pace the ‘Cats. Ray hit four of seven from three-point land.

Curtis Sumpter had two very impressive halves, as he was ‘Nova’s main threat in the first half, scoring 13 points and outplaying National Player of the Year finalist forward Wayne Simien. Sumpter scored 12 more points in the second half for a total of 25, to go along with six boards. Sumpter, who came into the game shooting 39 percent from behind the arc, continued his hot streak as he connected on five of six from deep, including nailing three in the first half.

The ‘Cats as a team were impressive from the three-point line, hitting 12 of 19 shots.

Coach Wright was ecstatic with the team’s performance.

“I know the program’s going in the right direction. I know we have good guys, we have good guys coming in, it’s more for these kids,” Wright said. “For our guys to play together and work hard, I am just happy they could experience it.”

Earlier this year, Ray said that he was hoping one of the teams they would play would be ranked No. 1 in the nation so the ‘Cats could have a chance to knock them off.

Well, Kansas wasn’t No. 1, but knocking off a No. 2 team is just as impressive.