By Matt Tait ---- firstname.lastname@example.org
In what was equal parts sloppy, spectacular and wildly enteraining, the Kansas University men's basketball team traveled to Washington D.C. on Wednesday night and came away with a 75-70 victory over a scrappy Georgetown team.
The victory improved 10th-ranked KU to 7-1 overall this season and dropped the Hoyas to 5-3.
Kansas built a 13-point first-half lead and saw it shrink to two by halftime. That set the stage for a back-and-forth second half in which KU always seemed to maintain the upper hand. A big reason for that was the smooth shooting of Brannen Greene, who hit a career-best five three-pointers and finished with 19 points to help KU secure the victory.
Georgetown center Joshua Smith was a load for the Jayhawks to handle all night and he finished with 20 points. But KU drilled some timely jump shots and played tough defense at key moments to hold off Smith and the Hoyas.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:
• The game turned when: Greene hit back-to-back three-pointers early in the second half that turned a Georgetown lead into a game that KU controlled the rest of the way. The Hoyas never went away and it certainly was not easy for KU, but had Greene not hit those shots when he did, you got the sense that the Hoyas may have been moving toward building a pretty substantial lead.
• Offensive highlight: After a hard drive to the rim on the left side by Frank Mason III, the KU guard's runner bounced off the rim and missed. Cliff Alexander came charging down the lane and slapped the ball out of mid-air while hanging above everyone on the floor and the tap fell through to put Kansas up 24-13 with just over eight minutes to play in the first half. It wasn't as loud as Alexander's vicious dunks but it may have been more impressive as he showcased his athleticism and high motor to pick up the not-so-easy bucket. Alexander is so much more than just a big body. Of course, the back-to-back Greene three-pointers in the second half were highlight-worthy themselves.
• Defensive highlight: Moments after Perry Ellis had a shot at the rim rejected, Devonté Graham, who had just checked into the game for the first time, picked up one of his two steals on the night by picking the pocket of Georgetown's L.J. Peak in transition. The quick turnaround led to two points on the other end for the Jayhawks and showed, yet again, just how disruptive Graham can be defensively for this team. Later on, Alexander delivered a big-time block from behind Georgetown's Mikael Hopkins, who thought he had an easy layup. The block preserved a four-point KU lead with around five minutes to play.
• Key stat: Take your pick – free-throw shooting, three-point shooting or turnovers. The first two were the only reason the Jayhawks won the game and the last one was the reason they nearly didn't. KU hit 25 of 32 from the free-throw line, 10 of 17 from three-point range and turned it over 17 times. Luckily for Kansas, Georgetown turned it over just as many times and hit five fewer three-pointers.
• Up next: The Jayhawks return to the area this weekend and will take on Utah at 2:15 p.m. at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The game will be shown on ESPN. The Utes are off to one of the best starts in school history and figure to be yet another solid challenge in a stretch of tough games for Kansas.