Davidson takes down 12th-ranked Jayhawks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Davidson coach Bob McKillop used every boxing analogy he could think of Monday. He told his team to go one round at a time, keep throwing punches and stand toe-to-toe with Kansas in the center of the ring.

How about this for an analogy: The Wildcats scored a technical knockout.

Nik Cochran had 21 points, including a clutch 3-pointer in the closing minutes, and the tiny school from North Carolina shocked the 12th-ranked Jayhawks 80-74, exacting a bit of revenge over an epic NCAA Tournament loss three years ago.

“A month ago we had a one-point lead against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and they knocked us out in the first five minutes of the second half,” McKillop said. “We came out tonight and scored two quick baskets to put us in the center of the ring the rest of the way.”

J.P. Kuhlman added 15 points and De’Mon Brooks 13 for the Wildcats (7-3), who led for 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 tournament titles. Those losses also came out of conference — to Syracuse and Massachusetts.

“That wasn’t an upset tonight,” Kansas coach Bill Self said glumly.

It was the first meeting between the schools since the NCAA regional final in 2008, when Stephen Curry led Davidson 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 went on to win their fifth national title.

The teams were different Monday, no longer stocked with future NBA stars, and the game looked nothing like that fluid performance in Detroit. But the biggest difference was in the outcome.

“A couple years back, we took something real important from them. They probably circled this one early in the year,” Kansas’ Elijah Johnson said. “We knew with us being Kansas, they played teams like us before. We knew they wouldn’t come out afraid of us.”

Thomas Robinson had 21 points and 18 rebounds for the Jayhawks, trying in vain to rally his team down the stretch. Tyshawn Taylor came back from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee to get 15 points and seven assists, and Johnson also had 15 points.

The Jayhawks were 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. They finished 25 of 62 from the field (40.3 percent), but just 6 of 23 from the 3-point line and 18 of 31 from the free-throw line.

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