SAN ANTONIO – Ramping up for perhaps the biggest game in school history, 12th-seeded Richmond huddled in the tunnel. That’s when Kansas players came trotting past and the trouble started.
Shoves were traded. Words were exchanged and security appeared. It ended quickly without a fight and the Jayhawks went on their way.
The game itself wasn’t much different.
Brady Morningstar scored 18 points and Kansas, playing like the dominant No. 1 seed in a historic NCAA regional full of underdogs, knocked off Richmond 77-57 on Friday night to move one victory from returning to the Final Four for the first time since its 2008 championship.
“We were trying to get past, and they were shoving us,” Kansas guard Mario Little said of the pregame encounter. “But we tried to let our play do the talking, and I think we did a good job in the first half.”
There was no doubt about that.
The Spiders passed up open shots, bounced balls into the Kansas bench and found themselves down 31-9 with more than 6 minutes still left before halftime.
The Spiders looked jittery in the what was only the school’s second round-of-16 appearance. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, were calm and confident in reaching a fourth regional final under coach Bill Self.
“We weren’t able to slow them down in any way,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said.
Thomas Robinson had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Marcus Morris scored 13 for Kansas. The Jayhawks have yet to be tested in this tournament, winning by an average of nearly 18 points.
The Southwest regional is the first in NCAA history with three double-digit seeded teams. Kansas will play 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday.
It’s given the Jayhawks what appears – at least on paper – to be an easy-looking path toward the Final Four.
The Jayhawks can make it to Houston next week without having beaten a seed higher than ninth-seeded Illinois.