Kansas comeback hopes vs. Arkansas end with accidental made free throw from Jalen Wilson
No. 1 Kansas shot 17 to 25 from the free throw line. But at the end of the game, when it needed a miss, it was done at exactly the wrong time.
The Jayhawks were 72-70 behind No. 9 Arkansas when forward Jalen Wilson went to the line with three seconds left to take his second free throw. Kansas needed a missed free throw and an offensive rebound to level the game and avoid defeat in the second round.
But Wilson accidentally landed on his second free throw, turning the ball back to the Razorbacks. Arkansas was able to put the ball wide enough into open space to avoid fouls in the dying seconds and exit Wells Fargo Arena with a 72-71 win and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. After the game, Wilson confirmed it was an accidental make.
“I was trying to miss it,” Wilson said.
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Kansas started dying late in the game after Ricky Council IV made both free throws to increase Arkansas’ lead to 70-67 by 21 seconds. The Jayhawks took advantage of their last timeout with 17 seconds on the board.
After the time-out, the ball found its way to Wilson, who sliced inside and suffered a foul from Jordan Walsh with eight seconds left. Wilson made both free throws to make it a one-point play, but Council responded with two more on the other side of the floor to bring the lead back to three points.
Interim head coach Norm Roberts was asked after the game why Kansas didn’t try for 3 and instead let Wilson go to the layup, but he said the plan was always to pick what was available.
“We also tried to get a 3 depending on which ones we could get,” Roberts said. “J Wil did a great job tackling the basket and getting fouled and keeping the game going. So both options were there and J took the two-point option.”
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Wilson, a redshirt junior who is expected to play his last game in Kansas, was visibly distraught after the game.
Wilson, SN’s Big 12 Player of the Year and All-American First Team, was the Jayhawks’ undisputed leader in their bid to become consecutive champions. He averaged 20.1 points with 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game during the season. He made 79.8 percent of his free throws during the season.
Wilson finished Saturday’s game with 20 points, four rebounds and shooting 5-for-9 from the field and 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.
“I just love this place so much,” Wilson said when asked about his legacy. “Putting on this jersey every day changed my life for the rest of my life. I will remember putting on this jersey and I just want to be remembered as a guy who loved this place and did everything to make this place special. I never wanted it to be about me, even now because there were so many different guys here I want to make this place as special as possible.”
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Losing Kansas ensures Florida will remain the last consecutive champion for at least another year in 2006-07. The Jayhawks’ loss also marks the first time since 2018 that two No. 1 seeders have been eliminated before the Sweet Sixteen after No. 1 Purdue was eliminated in the first round of this year’s tournament.
The Razorbacks will have the winner of #4 Connecticut vs. #5 Saint Mary’s as their Sweet Sixteen opponent in Las Vegas.