Player of the Day: Elijah Johnson, Kansas: No. 2 seed Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 on Sunday evening, coming from behind to beat No. 10 Purdue 63-60. The Jayhawks got essentially nothing out of their two all-americans, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson, who combined to shoot just 6-for-23 from the floor. So how were they able to come back? Elijah Johnson. The junior shooting guard has had a love-hate relationship with Kansas fans in his three years in Lawrence, but Johnson earned his keep on Sunday. He led the way with 18 points, including a deep three with 3:04 left that gave Kansas their first lead of the game and a layup with 24 seconds left that put Kansas up for good, 61-60.
They were good too:
– DJ Cooper, Ohio: Cooper went for 19 points, seven assists and six boards to lead the Bobcats to a win over South Florida to advance to the Sweet 16, where they will take on North Carolina.
– Kenny Frease, Xavier: Frease went for 25 points and 13 boards, shooting 11-for-13 from the floor, to carry Xavier to a come-from-behind, 70-58 win over Lehigh.
– Robbie Hummel, Purdue: In his last game as a collegian, Hummel went for 26 points — including 22 in the first half — but Purdue lost to Kansas, 63-60.
Team of the Day: Ohio Bobcats: The Bobcats became the first team from the MAC in a decade to make the Sweet 16 as they beat No. 12 seed South Florida 62-56. Walter Offutt led the way with 21 points and DJ Cooper added 19 points, seven assists and six boards. The momentum of this game completely changed midway through the second half. Jawanza Poland was on the receiving end of an alley-oop that put the Bulls up five, but was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim for too long. It sparked a 17-4 run for Ohio that changed the game.
– Cincinnati Bearcats: No. 6 seed Cincinnati upset No. 3 Florida State 62-56, advancing to the Sweet 16, an incredible feat considering where their season was after the brawl with Xavier.
– Michigan State Spartans: Michigan State got 19 points and three assists from Keith Appling while Draymond Green added 16 points, 13 boards and six assists as the Spartans advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 61-56 win over St. Louis.
Game of the Day: Kansas 63, Purdue 60: The Boilermakers were absolutely on fire in the first half. They hit their first five 3-pointers and opened up a double-digit lead at one point. Robbie Hummel had one of the most impressive performances of the tournament in the first half, scoring 22 of his 26 points and hitting 7-of-8 from the floor and 5-of-6 from three. But Kansas came storming back in the second half, with Elijah Johnson providing the heroics. He scored the game-winning bucket on a fast-break layup. Purdue had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but a prayer from Ryne Smith bounced off the back board and the front of the rim.
They’ve had better days: Kendall Marshall, North Carolina: Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Marshall fractured a bone in his wrist late in UNC’s win over Creighton. The good news is that UNC should have enough talent on their roster to beat Ohio with or without Marshall, giving him two more days to get healthy. But if he is out for the rest of the tournament, UNC’s title hopes are all but gone. That’s tough.
– CJ McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum picked the right night to catch fire on Friday, as he led the Mountain Hawks to an upset of Duke. He picked the wrong night to struggle, as he went 5-22 from the floor in a loss that was a one possession game in the final minutes.
– Luke Loucks, Florida State: Loucks had two bad turnovers in the final minute as Florida State lost to Cincinnati.