Hot Shooting, Good Defense Equal an Easy Kansas Jayhawks Win


Behind the best shooting night of the season so far, the Kansas Jayhawks dominated the American University Eagles on 89-57 Saturday night.

Dec 29, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Travis Releford (24) dunks against American Eagles center Tony Wroblicky (34) in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

As a team, Kansas hit 63% from the field, which is plenty impressive, but they were 15-24 from the three point line, a 62.5% mark. Everyone was hitting – Travis Releford was 5-6, Elijah Johnson got on board with 4-5, Naadir Tharpe hit 3-4 and even Perry Ellis joined the party. Kansas had no problem finding the open man all night, as American’s defense couldn’t catch up.

They were fairly active inside, though. Their senior forward Stephen Lumpkins scored 16 and center Tony Wroblicky collected 11 rebounds. They also held Jeff Withey to one of his more quiet games of the year (11 points, 4 rebounds). But it just wasn’t enough.

The game started out close – tied at seven through the first TV timeout. However, by the time the second TV timeout came around, Kansas had exploded for a 16-2 run and it was never any closer. The run included a pair of threes from Johnson and Tharpe and was punctuated by a long dunk from Jeff Withey. Tharpe was driving after a rebound, left his feet in the paint but didn’t have a shot, turned in the air and fed a trailing Withey who took off from a step inside the free throw line.

Ben McLemore ran into quick foul trouble, picking up two in the first 3:37 and wasn’t a big factor. He didn’t need to be, but his lower minutes allowed Tharpe to get some additional time and he did well with it. He was constantly playing tough defense and led to many Eagles possessions going late into the shot clock. He also had a career high 12 assists, including another dish for a dunk in the second half, this time to Andrew White. The best thing about the Jayhawks effort was how they took care of the ball. Of their primary eight man rotation, they only gave up four turnovers, and two of those were committed by Jamari Traylor, who played more than 20 minutes for the second time this year.

Perry Ellis had his best game so far, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. That’s the first double-double by a KU freshman since Thomas Robinson in 2009.

The defensive effort was strong all night. Kansas had seven blocks and seven steals while holding the Eagles to 35% shooting. American was able to make the score look a little better over the last six minutes against KU’s backups and walk-ons.

There were sloppy moments, but overall, Bill Self won’t have a lot to gripe about over the next week (though his son Tyler did have a bad airball on a three point attempt in the final minutes). Kansas next takes on a dangerous 9-2 Temple Owls team who is coming off of a win against #3 Syracuse on the 22nd. That game will be played on Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse with the time is still to be determined (as it airs on CBS and there will be NFL Playoff games to schedule around).