Kansas Guard Picks Good Time To End Shooting Slump
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ Jerod Haase picked a good time to break out of his shooting slump.
The junior guard had 15 of his 17 points by halftime as Kansas routed South Carolina State 92-54 Friday in the first round of the NCAA West Regional.
He hadn’t scored 15 points in any game since Jan. 28 and finished with his highest scoring output since getting 30 against Temple on Dec. 22.
``I felt good out there,″ Haase said. ``This might have been my best shooting day of the season. It’s a great time to start shooting the ball well.″
``Jerod has struggled, but he put more pressure on himself than probably any kid I’ve been around,″ Kansas coach Roy Williams said. ``He’s been fantastic for us all year long on the defensive end of the boards. His decision-making and ball handling are good. He just hasn’t shot the ball well _ until now. That gave us a big lift early.″
ON GUARD: With Maryland and Duane Simpkins now out of the way, Santa Clara’s Steve Nash has a new objective _ outplay Kansas’ Jacque Vaughn.
The matchup for Sunday’s second-round game was set after Santa Clara upset Maryland 91-79 and Kansas routed South Carolina State 92-54.
``He’s a great player, one I have a tremendous amount of respect for,″ Nash said of Vaughn, a second-team All-America. ``He’s a great leader and I think that’s what I respect him most for.
``This is a really exciting bracket for me because of the great guards. I used to watch Duane Simpkins play in high school.″
Simpkins was held to 10 points and four assists by Santa Clara, which got 28 points and 12 assists from Nash, who also was 17-for-18 from the free-throw line.
Vaughn had 12 assists and three steals in 27 minutes against South Carolina State, but only scored five points and sat out most of the second half as Kansas cleared its bench.
Still, Vaughn’s assists were the most by a Kansas player in NCAA tournament history and pushed him over the 200 mark for the second consecutive season.
Asked about facing Nash, Vaughn just shrugged.
``I don’t look at individual matchups,″ he said. ``It’ll be my team against his team. I’ll have the chance to neutralize his game and he’ll have the chance to neutralize mine.″
SKID MARKS: Santa Clara’s upset of Maryland did more than end the Terrapins’ record of 12 straight first-round wins in the NCAA tournament.
It also marked the first time Gary Williams has lost an opening-round NCAA game in his 18-year coaching career spanning three schools. He had been 2-0 at Maryland, 2-0 at Boston College and 1-0 at Ohio State.
``Expectation were high this year and I’m not sure they were quite deserving,″ Williams said. ``I feel that our guys making to the NCAA tournament was a heck of an accomplishment. Our seniors got us to two Sweet Sixteens and an NCAA appearance in their careers. I thank them for that.″
Kansas has now won 13 straight in the first round dating back to 1978. That was also the last time the Jayhawks played in the NCAA West Regional and lost 83-76 to UCLA at Eugene, Ore.
TESTY LUTE: Arizona, with a 90-51 rout of Valparasio, avoided a first-round loss for only the second time in its last five trips to the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats were eliminated by East Tennessee State in the 1992 Southeast Regional, by Santa Clara in the 1993 West Regional and by Miami of Ohio in last year’s Midwest Regional. They made it all the way to the Final Four in 1994.
``I have not heard one question from anybody this week about what it was like to play in the Final Four,″ Arizona coach Lute Olson said. ``The last eight years, we’ve been in the Final Four 25 percent of the time and been in the Sweet Sixteen 25 percent of the time.
``The world is full of negatives and an awful lot of them are people with pens and pencils.″
SELLOUT BUT NO RECORD: This year marks the fifth time Arizona State’s University Activity Center has hosted an NCAA West Regional.
The others were in 1975, 1978, 1980 and 1992.
The 1992 regional failed to sell out the 14,198-facility, but this year’s regional sold all its tickets 45 minutes after the teams were announced last Sunday afternoon.
It helped that 11th-ranked Arizona is in the field, considering the Wildcats have a large following and Tucson is just a two-hour drive north.
Friday’s day session drew a crowd of 10,728 with the night session _ featuring Arizona _ watched by 12,462. Many left at halftime with the Wildcats ahead 51-15.