NCAA tournament: UC Davis' Chima Moneke spans globe


Entering the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks didn't know if they were going to face the UC Davis Aggies or the North Carolina Central Eagles.

Vang in the NCAAs - "Surreal" is how Wichita native Tucker Vang described the experience of being on a No. 1-seed KU team as it prepares for its tournament opener against UC Davis. UC Davis (22-12) is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Moneke, who is Nigerian and hasn't seen his parents since 2009, shot 6-of-10 from the floor and had two steals in the win for the Aggies (23-12) who secured their first win at the NCAA Tournament after earning a trip to the tournament by winning the Big West Conference Tournament. An energetic second-half comeback gives the Trojans some buoyancy and momentum as they move into the field of 64. UC Davis also connected on two early three-pointers off hard dribble penetration and pick rolls.

"And we're just proud of how far he came so far throughout his year, and we're just focused on today and we're not really anxious about anything off the court". "I've said this, our guys grew up as little hoopers dreaming about playing and having this opportunity". They have really good habits. "They executed on the game and won the game". He plays a lot of 4 for the Aggies, so he will be an interesting cover for the Jayhawks, even with their small ball lineups. He was just freshman when the program hired new head coach Jim Les in 2011-12. Les took his alma mater, Bradley, to the Sweet 16 in 2006. "And then you look at Michigan State and you say, 'Hasn't he been to seven or eight Final Fours?' So, I personally didn't feel a ton of comfort or warm feelings by seeing that".

"Being freshmen, a year ago we didn't know what to expect coming into the game". "I tell them all the time there isn't anything I didn't experience from being a guy that came off the bench the last guy on the bench to being a starter to being the leading scorer to being the guy who scored the least".

"What I learned from it is we all make mistakes", Jackson said Thursday. We keyed in on a couple of things that we needed to improve on. "There's pressure in it, but when you're at this level and we've been through so much with each other, we've just kind of got a good feel for what we've got going on and we don't have to be real tight or tense and we can just try to go out and play loose and have fun".

Just as the Aggies looked to seize the moment, the Eagles forced three consecutive turnovers out of a half court 1-3-1 trap, getting them right back into the contest. "I think we're focused".

Turnovers plagued UC Davis throughout the game, but the Aggies always had a response for NC Central. "A lot of people have been coming out of nowhere and congratulating me and sending me friend requests on Facebook and stuff like this". So I hope he can get here.

"We have a chip on our shoulder, individually and collectively, " said senior guard Darius Graham. Jodi and I knew about it, but we didn't really know about UC Davis.

"Pressure is walking outside of your home every single day having to make a life and death decision to go back in and pressure is your mother struggling to keep the lights on and having a hot meal on the table".