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Pugh Pulls Kansas Past Aces

Kansas used a simple game plan to beat Evansville in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional big men and big defense.

The Jayhawks owned the area inside the lane and ruled the boards, toppling Evansville 95-74 Friday night.

"Kansas did a great job of throwing it inside and ramming it down our throats," Evansville coach Jim Crews said. "They're big and strong and their size and strength inside overwhelmed us."

T.J. Pugh had 15 points and 10 rebounds, both career bests, for Kansas, including 12 points in the first half when the Jayhawks were shaking off mistakes and the Purple Aces' hot shooting.

"Most of my points were when we were losing," Pugh said. "I consider myself an opportunistic shooter. I wanted to keep us going."

Kansas (23-9) outrebounded Evansville 45-15 and shut down the Aces' high-scoring offense in the second half. The 30-rebound margin is the third highest in an NCAA tournament game.

"They're obviously bigger than us and when they started getting two and three shots, that played a big part in the margin," Evansville forward Craig Snow said.

Pugh agreed, saying Kansas always aims for the basketball.

"Rebounding is always the X-factor for us," Pugh said. "The only way to get extra possessions is offensive rebounds and we were able to do that."

Evansville, one of the nation's top shooting teams, hit only 37 percent from the field after halftime, including 4-of-16 from 3-point range.

Marcus Wilson led Evansville (23-10) with 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting, but he didn't get much support from his teammates. Snow, with 16 points, was the only other Evansville player in double figures.

"In the first few minutes I was getting a lot of open looks and hitting my shots," Wilson said. "Then they started tightening up and extending on screens. That made it more difficult."

Jeff Boschee scored 17 points for Kansas, which shot 63 percent from the field. Nick Bradford added 16 points, Eric Chenowith 13 and Kenny Gregory 12.

Evansville started quickly, hitting four 3-pointers en route to a 15-9 lead. The Aces shot 69 percent over the first eight minutes and took a 26-15 lead with 11:56 left.

Kansas tightened its man-to-man defense and shut down Evansville over the next five minutes while going on a 14-0 run that put the Jayhawks up 29-26.

Kansas is playing in its 10th straight NCAA tournament, while Evansville was making its first appearance since 1993.

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