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April 17, 2014

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Kansas drops Detroit Mercy, 65-50

• Betting line via Wynn Las Vegas: Kansas -14, covers.

OMAHA, Neb. — Detroit Mercy was brimming with confidence before Friday night's second-round NCAA Midwest Regional game against No. 2 seed Kansas.

After all, the 15th-seeded Titans were on a five-game winning streak, had a strong frontcourt, a talented point guard and possibly enough depth to take out one of college basketball's storied programs.

For a while, it looked like that might be a possibility when the Titans led midway through the first half. But UDM struggled with its outside shooting and Kansas' strength and overall balance was too much, sending the Titans to a 65-50 loss at CenturyLink Center.

UDM finished its season 22-14 and made its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1999. Doug Anderson led the Titans with 15 points.

Kansas (28-6) will pay 10th-seeded Purdue (22-12) in the third round Sunday. Thomas Robinson had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who have made 23 straight NCAA tournament appearances.

The Titans were sharp and sensational early in the first half and matched Kansas nearly shot for shot over the first 11 minutes.

Anderson, the Titans' dunk specialist, made two dunks, but his best and perhaps UDM's finest moment was also its last of the first half.

Ray McCallum made an outside shot to tie the score at 19. On the trip back, Jason Calliste stepped in front of a pass for the steal and fed a streaking and solitary Anderson. The windup could be felt throughout the arena as Anderson flew in for a thunderous reverse dunk.

The Titans suddenly led, 21-19, with 9:03 left. Kansas coach Bill Self called a time-out.

Was this really happening? Were the Titans less than 29 minutes from becoming the third No. 15 seed to take down a No. 2 seed Friday?

Not if Self could help it.

After the break, Robinson came up with an energy-inducing steal and dunk to begin an 8-0 run. Robinson bookended the run with another dunk for a 27-21 Jayhawks lead. Kansas was up, 34-24, at the break.

The Titans made some good outside shots early in the first half and then went cold. They shot 32% in the first half and were 0-for-7 on three-pointers. Kansas shot 50 percent.

At the start of the second half, the Jayhawks continued to pour it on. They went on an impressive 34-8 run capped by consecutive three-pointers from Elijah Johnson and Conner Teahan that boosted their lead to 53-28.

The Titans responded nicely with a 10-2 run of their own on two three-pointers from Chase Simon and two dunks by Anderson.

UDM trailed, 55-38, with 11:32 left in the second half. But it wasn't enough. The Titans kept chipping away at the lead, but Kansas played sound defense and a ball-control offense to keep UDM at bay.

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