By Matt Tait
It was a game many believed could be one of Kansas University's toughest non-conference tests of the season.
It turned out to be a laugher.
In facing Colorado for the first time since the Buffs bolted the Big 12 for the Pac-12 two years ago — and on the front end of a home-and-home series that will move to Boulder, Colo., in 2013 — the Jayhawks were anything but welcoming to their old conference foes, drubbing Colorado, 90-54, in front of a rocking crowd at Allen Fieldhouse.
Ben McLemore continued to shine, finishing with a game-high 24 points and added five rebounds and two assists. The red-shirt freshman from St. Louis scored half of his points in the game's first 10 minutes.
KU senior Kevin Young also turned in an impressive stat line finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting in just 20 minutes. Young started and was a huge catalyst for KU's incredible surge of energy from which the Buffs were unable to recover.
Elijah Johnson chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three assists. Travis Releford scored 10 points and dished six assists and Jeff Withey finished with eight points and seven rebounds as No. 9 KU improved to 7-1.
Here's a quick look back at some of the action.
The game turned when: The official threw the opening tip in the air. KU opened the game on a 10-1 run, pushed that to 18-3 and cruised from there. The Jayhawks led 43-22 at halftime and then started the second half the way they began the first, ripping off a 9-0 run to push the lead to 30. Before it was all finished, KU recorded a largest lead of 42 points, which came with 9:31 to play in the second half.
Offensive highlight: With just over a minute left in the first half and the Jayhawks refusing to let up, Jamari Traylor picked up a steal near midcourt, gathered the loose ball and tossed it ahead to a streaking Travis Releford, who took a couple of hard dribbles, rose toward the rim and dunked the ball in the face of Colorado junior Jeremy Adams. After the flush, somewhat instinctively, Releford flexed, scowled and stared into the camera underneath the basket. Naturally, Allen Fieldhouse went nuts, one of many times the old barn exploded on Saturday.
Defensive highlight: It's hard to say if this was the offensive highlight or the defensive highlight, but since the dunk was merely average (for him), we'll call it defense. With just under 17 minutes to play in the first half and KU leading 10-3, red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore jumped into the passing lane, picked up a steal, tossed the ball over the head of the Colorado player to himself and slipped past him for an easy breakaway slam.
Key stat: Pick one. KU was terrific in just about every area in this one and, perhaps more importantly, forced the Buffs to be bad. KU shot 55 percent from the floor, (compared to 37 percent for CU), 82 percent from the free throw line (57 percent for CU) and 40 percent from three-point range (15 for CU). The Jayhawks recorded 12 steals, forced 18 turnovers and dished 23 assists in a game they dominated from start to finish.
Up next: The Jayhawks will be off next week for finals and return to action at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 against Belmont at Allen Fieldhouse.
Tyler Self caps off the win with a two.
Tharpe with his fourth turnover.
KU has made 25 of 39 twos.