Published November 20, 2014
Nik Cochran scored 21 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the closing minutes, and Davidson shocked No. 12 Kansas 80-74 on Monday night to exact a little bit of revenge over an epic NCAA tournament loss three years ago.
JP Kuhlman added 15 points and De'Mon Brooks had 13 for the Wildcats (7-3), who led the final 23-plus minutes to knock off the defending Big 12 champs in their home away from home.
The Jayhawks (7-3) had won 13 of the 15 games they had played at the Sprint Center, about a 30-minute drive from their campus in Lawrence, including the last two Big 12 titles. The losses also came out of conference — to Syracuse and Massachusetts.
It was the first meeting between the schools since the NCAA regional final in 2008, when Stephen Curry led the Wildcats on an inspired postseason run. Kansas managed a 59-57 victory when a last-second shot by Davidson's Jason Richards clanked off the rim, and the Jayhawks would go on to win the fifth national championship in school history.
Thomas Robinson had 21 points and 18 rebounds for the Jayhawks. Tyshawn Taylor came back from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee to get 15 points and seven assists, while Elijah Johnson finished with 15 points.
Kansas was coming off a win over No. 2 Ohio State and a lengthy break for final exams, though most of the game it looked as if they were still on break.
Davidson was clinging to a 68-65 lead with 1:31 left and the shot clock winding down when Cochran took a pass from well beyond the 3-point line, squared up to the rim and let go a shot that hit nothing but net. Taylor couldn't match it at the other end, his 3 clanking off the front of the rim, and Davidson managed to seal it from the free throw line.
Both teams went through long scoreless droughts, dreadful shooting slumps and a mishmash of turnovers and missed opportunities that prevented the game from having any type of flow.
Kansas finished 25 of 62 from the field (40.3 percent), but just 6 of 23 from beyond the 3-point line. The Jayhawks were also 18 of 31 from the free throw line.
Bill Self's crew must have figured it was in for a long night when they missed their first four shots and turned it over on their other possession. Davidson took advantage by running out to a 9-3 lead with 14:38 left in the half, forcing Self to call his second frustration timeout.
Kansas pulled within 15-13 later in the half before Davidson again stretched the lead, this time pulling ahead 23-15 after a basket by Brooks and consecutive 3s by Jake Cohen and Tyler Kalinoski.
Johnson finally sparked the sleepy Jayhawks with a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key, starting a 13-0 run. Robinson converted a three-point play and added another free throw, Johnson hit another 3-pointer, and Connor Teahan's 3 from the corner gave Kansas a 28-26 lead.
But the juxtaposition of Davidson's veteran poise — four starters returned from last season's team — with the inexperience of Kansas became evident. The Wildcats responded to adversity by scoring the next six points, and carried a 33-32 lead into halftime at a silenced Sprint Center.
It never got very loud in the second half.
Every time Kansas tried to go on a run, Davidson coach Bob McKillop was quick to call a timeout, and his veteran bunch managed to answer nearly every basket with one of their own, ultimately pulling out a victory that snapped a two-game losing streak in most impressive fashion.