University of Kansas

The Jayhawks defense won the day, but now faces Charles Barkley’s Auburn Tigers

Knocking down three pointers was Northeastern’s best opportunity to pull off the upset of Kansas.

Things couldn’t have gone worse for the Huskies.

The Jayhawks smothered Northeastern shooters, especially scoring leader Vasa Pusica, on their way to a 87-53 walkover in a Midwest Region first-round game in Salt Lake City.

Kansas, the No. 4 seed, will face fifth-seeded Auburn, where NCAA Tournament studio analyst Charles Barkley once starred, on Saturday in a second-round game that will tip approximately 8:40 p.m. Central time on TBS. The winner will advance to the Sweet 16 in Kansas City.

Pusica entered the game averaging 17.8 points and shooting 40.1 percent on three pointers. The Huskies were hitting nearly 39 percent as a team. But Thursday was a disaster.

Pusica went 2 for 13 on threes and finished with seven points. Northeastern was six-for-28 from behind the arc.

“You know, if you are kind of dialing up the blueprint for an upset, it would include, you know, a great shooting night,” Northeastern Coach Bill Coen said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have that.”

Bill Self went with a four-guard lineup most of the game and Northeastern shooters had trouble getting free.

Kansas led only 37-30 early in the second half but outscored the Huskies 50-23 after that. KU finished with 50 points in the paint and the Lawson brothers, all-conference forward Dedric and reserve K.J., his brother, combined for 38 points.

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