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Saturday, December 30, 2006

KU holds steady, knocks off URI 80-69

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Two days after winning one of its ugliest games in recent memory, the Kansas University men's basketball team hosts a team which has been waiting in Lawrence the whole time.

The Rhode Island Rams, who came straight from their last game in Ohio and have been in town since Thursday, take on KU for the first meeting between the two teams since the Rams upset top-seeded Kansas in the second round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament, 80-75.

For the Jayhawks, the game sends them into a break until next Saturday, when they play their final non-conference game at South Carolina. This contest comes on the heels of a 63-43 win over Detroit Thursday night, in which KU relied on a late 11-0 run to seal the deal for good. KU scored just 26 points in the first half of that game, including a horrendous scoring drought in the half's final 11 minutes.

Mario Chalmers was the brightest spot, though, for Kansas yet again. For the second straight game, the sophomore guard notched 22 points and was solid all-around.

URI was smacked by Ohio Wednesday night, 97-69, and comes in with a record of 7-6.

FIRST HALF

Rhode Island's Darrell Harris tipped in a miss by Kahiem Seawright to start the game, putting URI up two. For KU, junior Rodrick Stewart got his first start as a Jayhawk, in place of Julian Wright. Mario Chalmers answered it with a three, coming off of having hit seven treys in the past two games combined. After that, a transition opportunity saw Brandon Rush slam home a one-hander from Russell Robinson to blow the crowd up.

Rush then hit a three on KU's next possession to make it an 8-0 KU run.

Seawright finally answered KU's run with a leaner on the right side, but it was quickly negated by Brandon Rush's second three in the opening minutes.

Darrell Arthur and Julian Wright checked into the game for KU, subbing for Stewart and Sasha Kaun. Arthur quickly got himself to the free throw line and calmly sunk a pair to put KU up 13-4 with 15:34 to go until halftime.

******

KU came out of the game's first full timeout much like it did the other night - offensively absent for a bit. In that time, KU missed two threes, and an Seawright two inside made it a 13-6 game.

Sherron Collins, in the game for Robinson, broke a three-minute drought for KU by knifing into the lane and dropping in a floater for his first points, that was followed immediately by a Rhode Island turnover.

Will Daniels stroked Rhode Island's first three of the game, but Mario Chalmers came right back, coast-to-coast for a twisting deuce to put KU up 17-9 heading into a timeout at 11:56.

******

Out of the timeout, Brandon Rush missed a long jumper, having cooled off with two misses after his hot, eight-point start. Darnell Jackson then came swooping into the lane and soared for a two-handed dunk attempt, but it stoned off the back of the iron, turning into a transition dunk for URI's Keith Cothran.

Darrell Harris followed it up a minute later with a three-pointer for URI to pull the Rams within three at 17-14, making this start reminiscent of Thursday's against Detroit.

Darrell Arthur ended yet another Kansas dry-spell with an awkward bank-shot from about six feet away falling backwards. The score would stick at 19-14 heading into a full timeout at 7:48.

******

Brandon Rush threw down a perfectly placed alley-oop from Jeremy Case out of the timeout, and Case nearly rattled home a three on KU's next possession, but it rimmed out and the ball went back to URI on a foul call against Sasha Kaun.

Mario Chalmers pushed KU's lead to nine points at the 5:34 mark in the first half when Chalmers thundered home a one-handed open-court dunk on a feed from Julian Wright.

The high-flying act continued, first with a two-handed Julian Wright lob finish in which he screamed while throwing it down, then on Chalmers' attempt to posterize URI's Darrell Harris. The dunk attempt clanked out, but Chalmers hit one of two free throws to put KU up 26-14 with 3:44 left until the intermission.

******

Out of that break came, you guessed it, another lob, this time from Jeremy Case to Darrell Arthur.

Julian Wright then scored in transition on a hanging layup from straight away to put KU up 30-14 and extend a 13-0 run.

Will Daniels made one of two free throws to get the Rams their frst points in seemingly forever with 90 seconds left until halftime. That was followed by a two-handed dunk inside by Joe Mbang, forcing Bill Self to call a timeout with :57.7 left until the break.

Two will Daniels free throws continued URI's mini-surge before halftime and left KU with time for one last shot. Instead, KU turned it over with an offensive foul on Darnell Jackson with just over eight seconds to go. Jimmy Baron stroked a long three to make it 30-22 at halftime. Brandon Rush leads the way with 10, while Mario Chalmers has eight for KU.

SECOND HALF

KU came out aggressive in the second half, with Sasha Kaun earning a free throw line trip right off the bat. He hit one of two, and the offensive rebound on the second led to a Julian Wright slam. But Wright was taken baseline on the defensive possession by Darrell Harris, making it 33-24.

Kaun earned yet another free throw break on KU's second possession of the half, and again made one of two, this time without an offensive board to help. Harris again answered, tipping in a Will Daniels miss inside.

Sherron Collins hit his first three of the game when KU got the ball back, and Julian Wright then picked the ball clean on defense, took it coast-to-coast and threw home a two-handed stuff, giving him eight points.

Rhode Island's next points came off of a defensive board from a pair of KU misses, and Parfait Bitee hit the wide open three, but two more Julian Wright points kept KU's advantage in double figures at 41-29.

Wright scored yet again, this time on a feed from Sasha Kaun in the post, putting KU up 43-29. He then hit another jumper coming on the heels of Harris banking home a straight away three. Rhode Island's Kaheim Seawright was able to quiet the crowd some with two inside points while being fouled, sending URI into a full timeout at 15:49 down 45-34. Wright has scored 10 points in the first 4:11 of the second half.

******

Seawright hit his free throw to make it again a 10-point game. After a Wright miss, he scored again to pull Rhode Island within eight, which was its same deficit at halftime. That went away quickly, as Kaun swung down the baseline for a two-handed slam on the side, coming from Sherron Collins.

Collins got himself another assist, this time knifing down the floor on an outlet dish from Brandon Rush to find Julian Wright for his sixth second half field goal. Chalmers then scored his first points since the break on a tiny floater from just a couple of feet away, putting KU up 51-37.

Keith Cothran scored out of a Rhode Island timeout, but KU's answer was a Sherron Colins three, giving the freshman guard eight points on the night.

Brandon Rush then hit his third three of the game to respond to a pair of Will Daniels free throws. Seawright came right back with two droving from the wing, making it a 57-43 game with 11:27 to play.

******

Sasha Kaun scored a smooth-looking pair inside off of a Mario Chalmers missed three-pointer in the corner to put KU up 59-43 as the game gets under the 10-minute mark.

After Jeremy Case showed outstanding hustle in nearly hunting down a baseball pass for Rhode Island's Kaheim Seawright, the play resulted in an and-one for Will Daniels. He then hit a three-pointer to pull Rhode Island within 11 points at 60-49.

Brandon Rush hit two free throws to end a KU offensive slump and bump the lead back to 13 points. That was followed by Rush swishing home a baseline jumper to give himself 17 points on the night.

Rush hit another pair of free throws out of a full timeout at 7:05 to put KU up 66-51.

******

Will Daniels continued his huge second half for URI by hitting a three with a defender in his face, but Julian Wright followed it by scoring his 13th and 14th points of the second half, keeping KU's lead at 14 points, 68-54.

Parfait Bitee dropped in an and-one just before the final full timeout of the game, with KU leading 70-58 at the 3:55 mark, free throw still to come.

******

Bitee hit the free throw to get URI back within 11 points.

Julian Wright rolled in a pair of bonus free throws, giving him a new career-high with 22 points, 18 of which came in the second half. It was answered quickly though with a Bitee jumper atop the key.

Mario Chalmers hit a floater down the left baseline out of a 30-second URI timeout with just over two minutes to go to put KU up 74-61.

Then came yet another hoop from Rams junior Will Daniels, who has a team-high 21 points.

Sherron Collins put in the final dagger with just over a minute to play, hitting a falling baseline jumper with the shot clock expiring, giving him 10 points on the night and making him the fourth Jayhawk to score in double figures.

Jimmy Baron hit a three for URI, but all that did was start a foulfest to finish the game. Collins though was fouled by Baron and hit two free throws to put KU up 78-66 with :40.1 to go.

Collins hit one more free throw, and Baron answered with another three, but URI continued to foul, drawing ire from the home crowd with 6.6 seconds left and KU up 79-69.

Julian Wright led all scorers with 23 points, while Brandon Rush had 19, Sherron Collins had 13 and Mario Chalmers had 12 for KU. Will Daniels led three Rams in double figures with 21. KU now has a week off before closing the non-conference schedule with South Carolina on the road next Saturday.

Comments

Michael Leiker 14 years, 10 months ago

I hear that. I've never seen a team make more over the head passes, coupled with the complete in-ability to make a decent post entry pass. But I think it's getting better.

I do think it's a completely different zone offense this year though. It's an entirely different system.

Chris Kurtz 14 years, 10 months ago

The only thing that bothers me more than the over the head passes is when the two inside guys during the zone would be standing on the same side of the paint down low looking at each other.

Also, who else agrees with this......it seems I see 4 or 5 times a game when Kaun gets great position and there is a great opprotunity to pass to him and the players look him over. Then they throw it to him when they have the hardest angle imaginable? I don't think the guards have confidence it Kaun posting up, they only like to lob it to him for layups or dunks. He isn't gonna get better at posting up if he doesn't get a chance, and it would beat the hell out of them passing around the parimater and clanking shots.

Michael Leiker 14 years, 10 months ago

Kaun seals, your absolutely right, and our guards are not very good at getting the ball to big men in position, unless it's on a wrap around pass. The passing from the wing to the post is not good.

Why is there an 8 day lay off right now? I really wish I didn't have to wait nine days to watch them play again? Oh, maybe the athletic department expected the football team to be playing a game after new years and didn't want to throw too much at fans at the same time.........wait, no, probably not.

mcoan 14 years, 10 months ago

Why can't we get the ball into the paint? Or even bother looking for the open man in the paint? Kaun and Shady were open and calling for it, and instead we're out there jacking up 3's. Go for the high percentage shots.

I still saw a lack of effort in the 2nd half. A lot of standing around. We almost got out-rebounded. No killer instinct to put a weak team down. We don't take weak teams seriously.

I said when I sat down to watch the game, "if we don't when by at least 20 against this team, it proves my point about how they really only get up for Top 50 programs. The rest, they just play because they have to."

I will repeat myself: We are having the most boring year of Kansas basketball in my 25 years of watching them. I find myself looking at the clock and thinking, "good, it's almost over." Why? lack of effort. Sad.

Michael Leiker 14 years, 10 months ago

Hawks looked great in every aspect. When is the last time anyone saw a KU team pass like that? They attacked the zone beautifully. Nice coaching job Bill.

Sparko 14 years, 10 months ago

Rhode Island made some crazy shots the second half, played as well as they could, and got some kind calls. Still were smoked. Great game. Collins played a solid, solid game. Wright played spectacularly, but all the jayhawks looked great tonight. Fun to watch.

rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 14 years, 10 months ago

We played good, we just need to knock down some shots. Go hawks

bethnbob 14 years, 10 months ago

Wow. I am totally shocked! We only won by 10 and nobody is talking about how bad Coach Self is.

ophawks 14 years, 10 months ago

Anyone know what happened to Russell Rob? Was he just sick or did he actually get hurt?

kubasketballnut 14 years, 10 months ago

Okay "bethnbob" let me tell you how bad Coach Self is....he is about as bad as Dean Smith, just a whole lot younger.

Now let's face the facts. We love the JHawks and we are never satisfied. However, after tonight's game maybe we should look forward to seeing just how good this team will be IF we ever are satisfied.

Personally I think the highlight film at the end of this season will be the best ever. I hope the ending will be a national championship but if it isn't I still want a copy of the highlights. When this team catches fire they can flat out light up the court. GREAT GAME.

kubasketballnut 14 years, 10 months ago

ophawks....Russell had a touch of the flu which has been going around the team. He should be okay long before the next game.

Jeremy Bolinger 14 years, 10 months ago

well put! The real season hasn't even begun, so lets see if we can reel of some big conference games! And Russell Rob just got the flu from everyone else, he isn't hurt. Was anyone else as impressed with Brandon as I was? Starting out smoking from the get go!

ophawks 14 years, 10 months ago

Alright good. I kinda figured he had the flu when he kept putting the towel over his face. I thought Sherron had a good game in his place though.

Jclarkson 14 years, 10 months ago

Self is as good as Dean Smith only younger?

Thats a bold statement....very bold.

Jclarkson 14 years, 10 months ago

Im sorry....as bad as Dean Smith only younger. :)

Joe Ross 14 years, 10 months ago

liekness. we looked great in every aspect?

turnovers? rebounds? hmm...

Larry Smith 14 years, 10 months ago

9 turnovers is not so bad, and we out rebounded them 36-35. but I guess some people are never satisfied.

Chris Kurtz 14 years, 10 months ago

A even better test will be at South Carolina. When I looked at the schedule the two games other than Florida that stuck out were @Depaul and @South Carolina.

I don't expect KU to win at SC. They are a good team that has barely missed the NCAA two years in a row and almost beat us at the Fieldhouse a few years back. The fans will be packed and it will be crazy. We also have an 8 day layoff. If they can win that game though it would be a great ending to the Non-conference season.

Joe Ross 14 years, 10 months ago

My point is that there is a difference between "great" and "not so bad".

Joe Ross 14 years, 10 months ago

...but I guess some posters are never satisfied.

Chris Kurtz 14 years, 10 months ago

One thing people hardly mention is that when a team plays zone it sets them up for an advantage for rebounding. Especially the 2-3 zone. It puts 3 guys right near the paint and forces the opponet to the outside.

RI did a great job of crashing the Offensive boards as well so I have to give them credit there.

Michael Leiker 14 years, 10 months ago

I'm usually the biggest hater on here since Self has been in town (excluding Jim Jones). The mistakes they made tonight they made being aggressive, and that's one of the few times that you can say that since he's been here. This zone offense compared to last year is night and day. Last year it was 3 out, 2 in and everybody just stood there and tried to get position. The way this team attacks the high post and short corner are textbook, it was beautiful.

As long as we have guys blocking shots, teams will always get rebounds on us, but I think overall it pays off in terms of opponents field goal percentage. And I hate to see guys jumping up and trying to block shots so it's taken me quite a while to come around to that idea.

Getting the ball out of the basket and getting it up floor like they did tonight; just hasn't been done on Naismith Court for a while.

Self sitting guys at the beginning of the game was great, he was a coach tonight, maybe there is hope for him.

Chris Kurtz 14 years, 10 months ago

leikness....I definetly agree with your assesment of the way the KU players have acted against a zone. However, last year and this year I have seen them play the zone standing around one game and the next game attacking. Even this year they still tried passes over the top of the zone. Crazy. That leads me to believe it is more of the player's personality during the game than coaching. No reason he would coach it one game and not the next.

I still saw times when KU passed it a little to much. When they made quick passes there were lanes to drive and they didn't take it when it was open. When KU started taking to many outside shots RI made a run at the end of the first half. I wish they would play the zone this way all the time and improve on it.

ralsterKUMed95 14 years, 10 months ago

If I could look at a team and predict we WILL win this by 20, or this one will be close, or that one we win by at least 30, I would have made million$ in Vegas...It is the uncertainty that makes it so exciting, you see your team make a big play and we all sit on the edge of our seats. How many of us, the way we were playing at that point would have said we would beat FL? Im sure we 'faithful' believed deep down, but then again, our talent showed itself and maybe the boys were really focused the entire game. Maybe, I theorize, the seeming reduction of focus for the no-name teams comes from athletic arrogance or confidence from the players own personalities--we've essentially heard comments from Rush very suggestive of that. That's OK, but we may lose a game because we did not "turn it on in time". And that's OK, as the youngsters will learn, and Self and all of us will think "told ya so". I really think that will take care of itself, because NO athelete, especially ours, likes to lose. Im sure if the players thought about ORU and DePaul, THEY realize THEY could have been 14-0, and everything coach has been telling them about foot on the throat will start to translate into driven intensity of a consistent nature. At least we hope, as these players are pulling along for the ride everyones desires and thoughts on a successful season.

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