A total team effort led the Kansas Jayhawks to a big 89-60 win over Belmont. Kansas played a consistent game on offense, getting balanced scoring from inside as well as hitting their shots from outside. Solid defense disrupted shots and led to breaks that helped KU get out and run, and the outcome was never really in question. Belmont finished with an 11-0 run just to get it to within the final margin.
Ben McLemore and Travis Releford led the Jayhawks with 17 points each, both hitting shots from outside and scoring on dunks. McLemore had an unusual highlight at the end of the first half. With five seconds left, Elijah Johnson caught the ball on the run, drove up the court and dished to McLemore, who dunked as time expired. The ball went through with 0.2 seconds on the clock and the refs called a foul as well. So with both teams in the tunnel and headed toward the locker room, McLemore finished off the three point play and took KU to a 44-28 halftime lead.
Jeff Withey was solid all night as well, keeping players from getting easy shots while blocking five. He scored 14 points and added four rebounds. A surprised leading scorer was Andrew White, who came off the bench to score 15 on 6-8 shooting, including three from beyond the arc. As a team, Kansas shot 10-21 from three-point range and 50.8% overall.
Kevin Young added eight points and six rebounds, another solid night. He’s settled into his starting role, playing good defense and making the hustle plays. Four of his rebounds came on the offensive end. Elijah Johnson had an easy to overlook night as well, adding seven points, five rebounds and nine assists with only one turnover. He’s starting to look a lot more comfortable leading the offense and with McLemore and Releford available as the main scoring threats right now, he hasn’t been asked to be a scorer. Once he gets fully settled into running the point, I expect him to be another strong threat for the Jayhawks. After the game, Bill Self alluded to some small injuries that are nagging him. Nothing serious, but some things that could be hampering him here and there.
Perry Ellis looked a lot more involved than he had been recently. Coming off the bench, he’d looked tentative at times, but on Saturday night, he was moving into the paint, getting into his man and taking the shot. He missed a couple that easily could have been baskets, but they were shots he would have passed up or settled for worse position a couple of weeks ago. Jamari Traylor made a couple of plays, but wasn’t very active in his 13 minutes. Justin Wesley did not play and will miss a couple of weeks with a broken pinkie finger. He’s only averaged 5.8 minutes a game this season.
Before the game, there was a bit of worry about Belmont. They entered with a #23 ranking in the Pomeroy RPI rankings and were 7-2 entering tonight. That concern was never really felt beyond a short spurt that brought the Bruins to within 27-21 in the first half. Self called a timeout and KU scored the next seven points and never looked back.
Kansas improves to 8-1 on the season. Their next opponent is Richmond who comes to Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday with a 6:00 p.m. CST tipoff. The Spiders are 9-2 after a win tonight against Stetson.