SALT LAKE CITY—The 13th-seeded Northeastern Huskies lost to the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks, 87-53, in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
Northeastern’s two big weapons were neutralized by Kansas. Senior point guard Vasa Pusica finished his college career with a disappointing seven points. After making half of his shots overall this season, including 40 percent from the 3-point line, he was held to two-of-13 shooting (while missing four of his six 3-point attempts) with one assist.
His teammates fared no better. The Huskies were the 16th-best 3-point shooting team in the NCAA this season, but Kansas ruined hopes of an upset by limiting them to 6 of 28 from distance.
Northeastern was led by Jordan Roland, who scored 12 points on 13 shots.
While Pusica struggled, the Jayhawks were driven by their star, 6-foot-9-inch Dedric Lawson, who generated matchup nightmares on his way to a game-high 25 points (on 16 shots) and 11 rebounds. Guard Devon Dotson, one of four freshmen in the Jayhawks’ starting lineup, added 18 points.
The Jayhawks began to pull away before intermission, attacking early in their offense for the easy points that weren’t coming from the 3-point line, where they went 2 of 12 in the opening half. Their trend of penetrating to the basket continued throughout the final 20 minutes.
The Jayhawks (26-9) had been the preseason No. 1 pick and had retained the ranking into December amid a 9-0 start. Personnel losses resulted in their failure to win the Big 12 for the first time in 15 years, but this outcome showed that they enjoyed a large competitive advantage over the Huskies, who were making their second March Madness appearance in 28 years. They were outrebounded 45-27 by Kansas, which shot 55.7 percent overall.