In 2004, Richmond came to Allen Fieldhouse and shocked the Kansas Jayhawks, taking home a 69-68 win. It’s one of just seven losses at home by Kansas under Bill Self.
Tuesday night’s game had none of that sort of drama. Jeff Withey led KU with 17 points and 13 rebounds as the Jayhawks beat the Spiders 87-59. The win was marked by active defense from Kansas, strong interior play and poor Richmond shooting.
Richmond came out looking to fire up a lot of threes, and that they did. Unfortunately for them, only nine of their 32 long shots fell. Kansas did a good job getting ahold of the rebounds and executing the offense. There was a little more of a high-low game tonight, and Withey was regularly open near the basket. He made 7-9 shots as the leading Jayhawk scorer.
It got out of hand towards the end of the first half. With 11:32 to go, Kendall Anthony put in a layup to make it 15-11 Kansas. Richmond wouldn’t score again for more than eight minutes. By that time, it was too late. Kansas had scored 18 unanswered points and were cruising. They took a 39-18 lead into the half with 26 of Kansas’s points coming from inside the paint.
Things loosened up a bit in the second half. Richmond started hitting a few more shots and stayed active. Kansas wasn’t out and running as much as didn’t look as crisp either. They extended the lead, but after first half foul trouble, Ben McLemore didn’t get to spend much time in the second half and KU didn’t really need him. Naadir Tharpe was able to step in and hit some shots on his way to scoring 11 off the bench including three three-pointers. For a stretch, Tharpe and Elijah Johnson were on the court at the same time, putting both ballhandlers together.
Johnson had another good game and looked quicker than in other games. He’s looking more comfortable every game and added another seven assists tonight, including two good alley-oop passes in the second half, first finding McLemore unguarded and later losing a defender on a crossover and leaving it up for Perry Ellis. The next step is to see him hitting more shots. If he can start scoring along with a strong Withey inside and McLemore’s dynamic game, this will be a dangerous team. Travis Releford has stepped up early, but if they can rely on others aside from Releford, they’ll be better off in the big picture.
Kevin Young added eight points and nine rebounds, and saw the majority of the time at the four spot again. He’s playing solid basketball while being spelled by Ellis (who looked good tonight and seems to be finding a rhythm) and Jamari Traylor is making a couple of plays every time out.
McLemore finished the night with 14 points on 5-9 shooting and could have had more if not for foul trouble. He scored eight of the first 20 by Kansas but had to hit the bench early. Releford added 11 to tie him with Tharpe and Ellis and Johnson scored eight points along with Kevin Young’s contribution. It was a solid performance all around and as conference play gets closer and closer, KU is starting to mesh.
They’ll be tested on Saturday as they travel to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State. The #7 Buckeyes survived a scare against Winthrop tonight, sneaking away with a 65-55 win. They’re averaging 80.1 points a game and their only loss on the year was to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Deshaun Thomas is their leading scorer and rebounder this season. He was held to nine points on 3-14 shooting in last year’s Final Four matchup, but had scored 19 points in their regular season matchup. The game tips off at 3 p.m. CST.