DES MOINES, Ia.—Kansas coach Bill Self went on record Wednesday, flatly asserting that it is going to happen one day, a No. 16 seed is going to knock off a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That day was not Thursday, not on his watch.
His team did what is expected of a top overall national seed facing a Cinderella entry. Kansas throttled Austin Peay, 105-79, played plenty of reserves and cruised into the second round on Saturday. “We played well in spots,” Self said, adding that he wasn’t thrilled with the defense but was pleased with a bench that was led by Svi Mykhailiuk and his team-high 23 points.
The Jayhawks (31-4) advanced to meet Connecticut on Saturday. “We’re playing a big-name team in UConn, so hopefully we can get focused in on assignments,” junior forward Landen Lucas said.
Along with avoiding the chance of making embarrassing history, Kansas saw the game as a chance to shake off jitters. “The lights are actually brighter. It feels different when we’re out on the court,” Lucas said of the environment. “But for me that goes away pretty quick.”
Sixteen seeds always go away quickly, too. “We’re quite honestly not equipped to handle a team like that inside, with their numbers and size,” said Dave Loos, coach of Austin Peay (18-18), which qualified for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament on the final day of the regular season and won the eight-team event as the lowest seed.
Loos’ Governors had no one in the lineup or on the bench like Kansas freshman big man Cheick Diallo of Our Savior New American in Centereach. Diallo was nearly flawless in his March Madness debut, scoring nine points in seven minutes on four-of-five shooting (three dunks), a free throw (completing a three-point play), four rebounds and a block.
“I was looking for this from a long time ago and now I got the opportunity to play,” Diallo said in English, his fourth language. “I was excited to play. I was just waiting for my number to be called and any time my number is called I’ve got to prove that I can play.”