SAN ANTONIO, Texas — In a region full of underdogs, Kansas played like the No. 1 seed it is, beating 12th-seeded Richmond 77-57 Friday night to move one win from its first Final Four since its 2008 title.
The Spiders (29-8) looked jittery in their second Sweet 16 appearance. They passed up open shots, bounced balls into the Jayhawks bench and found themselves down 31-9 with more than six minutes still left in the first half.
"We didn't really play that well, so finishing like that is tough," Richmond center Dan Geriot said.
"There was a lot left in there for us to have competed a little better."
Its play belied the bluster Richmond appeared to show during a chippy confrontation with Kansas players before tipoff.
The Spiders were bouncing around the tunnel of the Alamodome, firing themselves up, when Kansas players brushed past them on their way to the court.
Some apparent contact set off an exchange of words and shoves, and security stepped between the teams.
By the time Kansas (35-2) filed back to the locker room at halftime, it led 41-22.
"We were trying to get past, and they were shoving us," Kansas guard Mario Little said of the pregame encounter. "But we tried to let our play do the talking, and I think we did a good job in the first half."
Kansas coach Bill Self downplayed the pregame tunnel dustup as "typical stuff, but it wasn't anything."
The Jayhawks have yet to be tested this tournament, winning by an average of nearly 18 points.
They are riding — at least on paper — an easy-looking path toward the Final Four. They can make it to Houston next week without having beaten a seed higher than nine.
If that happens, Kansas will join Michigan State in 2001 and North Carolina in 1991 as the only schools to get that far without having to beat a seed higher than nine. And only five teams have reached the Final Four by beating teams seeded eighth or lower, according to STATS LLC.
One of those schools? The 2008 Jayhawks.
That run ended in the Alamodome with Self winning his first title at Kansas. Three years later, the Jayhawks looked every bit at home.
When Thomas Robinson dunked over a pair of Richmond players to make it 31-9, Kansas players on the bench jumped to their feet and laughed. The Jayhawks shot 48 percent from the floor and made 9 of 19 3-pointers.
"We weren't able to slow them down in any way," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said.
Kevin Anderson, who hit the winning shot to upset Vanderbilt in its tournament opener, averaged 26.2 points in Richmond's previous five wins over ranked teams. But the senior scored 13 on 5-of-17 from the floor, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers.
Mooney sought to inspire his players this week by showing them Richmond's win at Allen Fieldhouse in 2004 during Self's first season at Kansas.
That win ended Kansas' 52-game home unbeaten streak against unranked opponents. But these Jayhawks never looked in trouble.
"It's just a lot of energy, getting ready to play a big game," guard Brady Morningstar said. "So that's how sports are sometimes. And I respect Richmond a lot.
"They're a heck of a team, and I'm glad we got a win."