Senior guard Bryce Brown made his first six shots, five from 3-point range, to ignite a first-half tear that enabled No. 5 Auburn to crush No. 4 Kansas 89-75 Saturday in the second round of the Midwest Region at Salt Lake City.
The win was the 10th straight for the Tigers (28-9), who advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. They’ll head to Kansas City to face the winner of Sunday’s second-round game between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 9 Washington.
Auburn surged to a commanding 51-25 halftime bulge, the worst deficit Kansas has ever faced at the break in 155 NCAA Tournament games.
Brown, who came in averaging a team-high 15.7 points, scored 17 in the first half and finished with 25 on 9-of-13 shooting, going 7 of 11 from 3-point range. Junior point guard Jared Harper chipped in 18 points, including 14 in the first half.
Sophomore forward Chuma Okeke added 12 points, while junior forward Anfernee McLemore added 11 for the deep Tigers.
Auburn wasted no time establishing control. It used runs 7-0 and then 8-0 to go up 15-5 before the first media timeout. Brown and Harper combined for three 3-pointers during that stretch, and the Tigers finished with nine first-half treys.
Kansas coach Bill Self had no answers for the early Auburn onslaught, using his third timeout with 8:57 still remaining in the first half. The Jayhawks (26-10) made their first seven attempts in the second half, but the Tigers countered by making their first five.
Auburn shot 52.5 percent and made 13 3-pointers, the seventh straight game the Tigers made at least 12 shots from behind the arc. They lead the nation in 3-point makes.
Kansas standout Dedric Lawson missed his first five attempts and did not connect from the field until the 2:26 mark of the first half. The slow start contributed to the Jayhawks’ first-half struggles, though the junior forward finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, his 22nd double-double.
The finish marks the second time in 16 seasons that Kansas coach Self suffered 10 defeats. The last time the Jayhawks did not advance from the opening weekend was in 2015.
—Field Level Media