Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor walked off the court with 37 seconds remaining looking tired and discouraged.
No wonder. It’s been a struggle in the NCAA Tournament. Taylor had just contributed to a shot-clock violation with a bad pass. Poor shooting was probably also on his mind. Taylor missed all six of his three-pointers on Friday, bringing his tournament total to 0 for 12. In KU’s past two games — Purdue and North Carolina State — Taylor is 6 of 25 from the field.
After the timeout and two misses by North Carolina State, Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 16 seconds to play.
The Jayhawks maintained possession when the ball went out of bound off a Wolfpack player. Taylor then passed to Elijah Johnson for a layup and a 60-57 lead with 13 seconds to play.
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On the line — Ohio junior Walter Offutt wanted to be on the foul line in the closing seconds of regulation. He shoots 71.5 percent for the season.
He missed the one he took on Friday, however, and it may have cost the Bobcats the upset. With 25 seconds to play, Offutt scored and drew a foul. His basket tied the game at 63-all. The missed free throw allowed North Carolina to survive into overtime.
“I’ve got to hit that free throw,” he said. “It just feels terrible to kind of let my team down.”
Bobcats coach John Groce protected his player by pointing out a myriad of other plays helped determine the outcome.
“The reality of it is it doesn’t fall on him,” Groce said.
Over the top — According to the official shot chart, Ohio missed 11 of 14 shots in the lane or at the rim in the first half.
Yes, it took the Bobcats most of the half to adjust to North Carolina’s size. The Tar Heels blocked eight shots and out-rebounded the Bobcats 63-30 for the game.
“They’re huge,” Groce said. “We’re not the only team they’ve done that to.”
The rebound margin is the largest in 148 NCAA Tournament games for the Tar Heels, topping the old mark by seven.
“We have out-rebounded the dickens out of a lot of people,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
North Carolina big men John Henson and Tyler Zeller owned a three or four-inch edge in reach and it showed. North Carolina blocked four shots, two by Zeller, in the first half and altered many others. Ohio missed 27 of its 35 shots and scored six points in the paint during the first half.
Into the spotlight — North Carolina freshman Stilman White became the tournament’s most high-profile substitute.
He started for Kendall Marshall, who watched in street clothes with an injured right wrist. White, who averaged 4.3 minutes in 32 games this season, played 32. He handed out six assists and didn’t commit a turnover, which means he performed the basics reasonably well.
“It was the type of thing where I was thrown in where I couldn’t be nervous,” he said. “This team is too good, already set up where I can’t come in and be nervous.”
Ohio picked on his defense with some success despite Williams’ efforts.
“He really did some nice things,” Williams said. “It was difficult for him defensively. I probably made a thousand moves tonight and one of the only ones that worked was in the end of the game in the overtime, we switched Reggie (Bullock) and put Reggie on D.J. (Cooper), because he was just tougher for Stilman to handle.”
No seniors needed — The Bobcats took a hammer to the conventional wisdom a team from a low-profile conference needs seniors to win in March.
Groce didn’t need a senior to beat Michigan and South Florida to advance to the Sweet 16. He has one on his roster, and rarely plays him. Ohio starts sophomore Nick Kellogg and juniors Walter Offut and D.J. Cooper at guard. Junior Ivo Baltic, from Kansas City’s Park Hill South, and sophomore Jon Smith start at forward.
Next year didn’t occupy a prominent spot in the minds of the Bobcats on Friday night.
"There’s nothing I can say to them at this point thats going to take away the sting of getting beat in that one,” Groce said.
Worth noting — Former Kansas coach Larry Brown earned time on the big screen at the Edward Jones Dome.… KU won 30 games for the third season in a row and the fifth time in the past six. The Jayhawks are in a regional final for the 21st time.… Ohio assistant coach Jamall Walker was the 1995 Kansas Gatorade player of the year at South High and played at Saint Louis. Assistant Dustin Ford’s brother is Geno Ford, coach at Bradley and a former star for the Bobcats.