By Matt Tait
It was billed as a better tune-up for the Kansas University men’s basketball team than the one the Jayhawks got against Emporia State last week.
And it was.
But despite a scrappy effort from visiting Washburn in KU’s final exhibition game of the 2012-13 season, the Jayhawks took advantage of 17 points from red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore and knocked off the Ichabods, 62-50, at Allen Fieldhouse.
"We actually guarded them well," KU coach Bill Self said. "We held Washburn to 50. We did a good job defensively. Our offense stunk. It was just beyond bad."
McLemore finished 6-of-12 shooting, including three makes from three-point land, to lead the KU offense, which also got 13 points from senior point guard Elijah Johnson and 10 from freshman forward Perry Ellis. McLemore also chipped in 10 rebounds.
KU led by 12 at halftime and by as many as 17 in the second half, but Washburn refused to give in. The Ichabods cut the KU lead to as few as 11 (53-42) with 5:32 to play but could not climb any closer.
The entire game was far from a thing of beauty, as KU turned it over 24 times and fell victim to 18 Washburn steals. In addition, KU hit just 16 of 27 free-throw attempts.
"Our senior leadership was non-existent," Self said. "We played like little babies tonight."
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action.
• The game turned when: KU turned a 13-12 first-half deficit into a 34-19 lead with a 22-6 run sparked by several transition buckets and a couple of McLemore three-pointers. Considering the Ichabods never trailed by more than 17 and still were within as few as 11 points with 5:30 to play, the early 16-point run proved to be huge.
• Offensive highlight: After sleep-walking through much of the game, senior center Jeff Withey woke up and went to work down the stretch. His and-one with around 7:00 to play was big, but it was his block, spin and outlet pass to a streaking Travis Releford, who dunked, drew the foul and hit the free throw, that brought the crowd to its feet.
• Defensive highlight: McLemore shined because of his offensive output, but his best moment may have come on the other end of the floor. With the Jayhawks leading 37-26 and in the middle of a sluggish start to the second half, McLemore soared to swat a jump shot by Washburn’s Jared Henry with 15:46 to play. The block and ensuing KU possession led to a monster dunk from Withey, and KU cruised home from there.
• Key stat: The Jayhawks weren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut in this one, but they were considerably more efficient than the Ichabods. KU finished the night shooting 44 percent from the floor, compared with just 26 percent for the Ichabods.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will open the regular season Friday, Nov. 9, when they take on Southeast Missouri at 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
KU runs out the clock for the 12-point victory.
Chipman takes a full timeout.
Washburn calls timeout.
KU just 12-for-21 from the free-throw line (57.1 percent).