AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Most of these Kansas kids didn’t have much to do with the “Bucknell Bummer.” Now they have one to call their own.
Marcellus Sommerville scored 21 points and made five 3-pointers, and 13th-seeded Bradley handed the fourth-seeded Jayhawks their second straight first-round NCAA tournament exit with a 77-73 victory Friday night.
The Braves made 11 3s to pick up their first NCAA tournament victory in 20 years and advance to play fifth-seeded Pittsburgh in the second round of the Oakland Regional on Sunday.
Unlike a year ago, when Wayne Simien missed a 15-footer at the buzzer to give 14th-seeded Bucknell an improbable victory, Kansas looked unprepared and overwhelmed from the start in this one.
The Braves (21-10) led by 14 with 15:38 to go, but let the Jayhawks back in the game with three straight turnovers with around the five minutes left. By the time the inexperienced Jayhawks finally got acclimated to the NCAA tournament pressure and intensity, however, it was too late.
Mario Chalmers made a 3-pointer after one of the takeaways, a three-point play after the second and a runner in the lane after the final one that cut Bradley’s lead to 65-62 with 3:45 to play.
But the Jayhawks (25-8) committed three of their 18 turnovers down the stretch, and Jeff Hawkins missed an open 3-pointer in the corner that would have tied it with a minute to play.
“I’m mad,” said Chalmers, one of three freshmen starting for Kansas. “We should’ve been better prepared for this game. We were nervous and took a while to adjust.”
Will Franklin, who added 14 points, hit two free throws and broke free for a wide open layup, and the Braves sealed the stunner at the free throw line for their first NCAA victory since a win over UTEP in 1986.
“There’s a lot of people smiling tonight,” Bradley coach Jim Les said.
Chalmers scored eight of his 15 points in the final five minutes for Kansas, which has lost in the first round in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
As the horn sounded, the thousands of red-clad Bradley faithful who made the trip from Peoria, Ill., chanted “B-U! B-U!” and “M-V-C! M-V-C!” in homage to the maligned Missouri Valley Conference.
The tournament selection committee was criticized for giving the mid-major conference four bids, the same as the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 10. But with Wichita State’s convincing win over Seton Hall on Thursday, the little guys went 2-2 in the first round.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Things looked ominous from the start for the Jayhawks. They turned the ball over seven times in the first six minutes and fell behind 24-17.
The Jayhawks chipped away at the lead from the free-throw line, eventually taking a 27-26 lead with 4:12 to go in the opening half.
That would be their last lead of the game.
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