Kansas slips by Southern Illinois

Associated Press • Mar 23, 2007 at 6:36 AM

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Kansas' run through the NCAA tournament was slowed to a crawl by scrappy Southern Illinois.

The Jayhawks got up just in time to move to the brink of the Final Four.

Brandon Rush scored 12 points without missing a shot, and Kansas eked out a 61-58 victory over Southern Illinois in the West Regional semifinals Thursday night.

Darrell Arthur and Russell Robinson scored nine points apiece to help the Jayhawks (27-4) barely avoid yet another Saluki surprise and another disappointing exit from the tournament. Kansas won its 14th straight game by nursing a small lead through the final minutes against a defense that made the Jayhawks' future NBA stars work exceptionally hard for every basket.

When Tony Young missed a desperate 3-point attempt from half-court at the buzzer, Kansas also dodged its second straight tournament loss at the hands of the Missouri Valley Conference, which takes the "mid" out of mid-major with each passing year. Butler beat the Jayhawks last season, but Kansas advanced to face UCLA in the regional final.

Jamaal Tatum scored 19 points in his final college game for the fourth-seeded Salukis (29-7), who couldn't get the break they needed to reach the round of eight for the first time in school history with just their second loss in 17 games.

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The way UCLA and Pittsburgh play tenacious defense, the best way to score is when the opponent can't contest the shot.

That's just what Arron Afflalo and the Bruins did. Afflalo made all 10 of his free throws and UCLA (29-5) shot 23-for-26 from the line to knock off the Panthers 6 in the West Regional semifinals.

The game between coaching buddies Ben Howland of the Bruins and Jamie Dixon of the Panthers (29-8) was played in the style they employed in their years together at Northern Arizona and Pitt. Nearly every shot being contested and neither team able to generate any kind of offensive flow as neither team cracked 43 percent shooting from the field.

But the second-seeded Bruins were able to win at the line, scoring 12 of their final 18 points on foul shots.

Ramon scored 12 points to lead the Panthers, who lost in the regional semifinals for the fourth time in six seasons.

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