LOUISVILLE, KY – Cheers, dog barks, and howls chorused from the Jayhawks’ locker room just moments after they defeated the Maryland Terrapins 79-63. It was the team’s first Elite Eight appearance since 2012 after being bounced from the tournament in the Round of 32 the past two years. The accomplished goal left the team feeling a sense of achievement after the game.
“It means a lot, you know?” senior forward Perry Ellis said. “We’ve just been trying to take it game by game and we keep doing that. I’m so happy for this team and we want to just keep continuing it.”
Jayhawk faithful certainly were happy for Ellis. The senior dropped 27 points against the Terrapins and eclipsed Paul Pierce for 8th on the Jayhawks’ all-time scoring list. Ellis dominated the game offensively, frustrating Terrapin defenders who began to turn on each other.
“It’s really not that easy to guard [Ellis],” junior forward Landen Lucas said. “I know from practice it’s not that easy, so when were getting on each other, I know how it feels. It sucks because he’s a tough guy to guard.”
There was a lot of anticipation that Maryland freshman center Diamond Stone would be a tough match up to try and guard for the Jayhawks, but Lucas locked down Stone, allowing the freshman only 5 points and 4 rebounds.
“He’s really the glue to this team,” said junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. of Lucas. “We thought Landen could really bring us together, and he did that. He’s doing terrific.”
At the same time of reducing Stone to a non-factor for the game, Lucas racked up a total of 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
“At practice we kept practicing trapping the ball in the post,” freshman Carlton Bragg Jr. said. “But Landen came up to coach and said ‘I want to guard [Stone] one on one.’ He really stepped up today.”
The victory sends the Jayhawks to the Elite Eight to take on the Villanova Wildcats, who defeated the Miami Hurricanes by a score of 92-69. Tip off is slated for 7:40 p.m. on March 26.