Kansas defeats UCLA, 72-56

  • 8:30 p.m., Nov. 22, 2011
  • Maui, Hawaii,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Showdown brewin’: Elijah Johnson helps KU dispatch UCLA

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson pushes the ball up the court against UCLA during the first half Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson pushes the ball up the court against UCLA during the first half Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 at the Lahaina Civic Center.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self and players

KU coach Bill Self, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 72-56 victory over UCLA on Nov. 22, 2011.

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— Elijah Johnson, the hero of Kansas University’s Maui Invitational semifinal victory over UCLA, Wednesday tonight fulfills a lifelong dream.

He gets to play Duke.

“I always knew about Duke. I always knew about Duke. I always knew about Duke,” Johnson, KU’s junior guard from Las Vegas, repeated for emphasis after scoring a career-high 23 points in Tuesday’s 72-56 victory over UCLA at Lahaina Civic Center.

The victory propelled (3-1) KU to today’s 9 p.m. final against the Blue Devils (6-0). Duke is 14-0 all-time in the Maui event.

“Duke is a program my pops always talked to me about,” Johnson added of proud papa Marcus Johnson. “Just to know I’m actually playing that program tomorrow and to be at Kansas … a lot of people play a school (like Duke) and know they are going to lose. I actually have a chance to beat Duke, which is a great feeling.”

Without Johnson, who hit eight of 13 shots, including four of eight threes, KU just might be playing in today’s consolation game versus Michigan, instead of the finals versus Duke.

He had 13 points in the first half, picking up teammate Tyshawn Taylor (13 points, six assists), who sat out a five-minute stretch after picking up his second foul. The Jayhawks didn’t miss Taylor much and led, 43-26, at the break.

“I’m the type of person who feels if you come out the first five or six minutes in rhythm, you should go off that feeling the whole game,” said Johnson, who hit four of seven shots the first half, including two of four threes.

“The game was slower for me today,” added Johnson, whose previous career high scoring mark was 15 against Oklahoma State last season. “I felt I had to help out Tyshawn and T-Rob (Thomas Robinson, 15 points, 10 boards), take some of the pressure off them.”

Johnson and the Jayhawks kept the faith during a maddening stretch in the second half in which a game-high lead of 20 points (51-31 at 15:49) dipped to five at 57-52 and 61-56 (9:34 to play).

Johnson had two points in an 11-0 run — a run in which five players scored — that closed the game and gave KU a runaway victory.

“No,” Johnson stated, asked if he was even a bit concerned KU would blow a 20-point lead. The biggest lead ever blown in a KU loss was 20 against Arizona back in January of 2003 in Lawrence

“I felt we were in control. Coach (Bill Self) is too good a coach to let us blow a lead like that regardless of how we were playing on the court. Coach had a plan. He’s too good a coach. It’s why he’s Bill Self,” Johnson added.

Taylor also had a feeling KU would be fine as the lead started to dwindle.

“We knew they weren’t going to go away,” Taylor said of the Bruins (1-3), who were led by Tyler Lamb, Jerime Anderson and Reeves Nelson, who had 15, 14 and 12 points. “We knew they would continue to play. We made some dumb plays that helped them out a bit. Coach said it is a game of runs. We kept playing. It was a team effort. If we keep competing like that, we can be really good.”

As far as beating Duke, KU will give it the ol’ college try.

“We knew coming in the tournament if we want to win we have to go through Duke,” Thomas Robinson said. “The stage doesn’t get any bigger than this, in the preseason at least: Duke and Kansas for the championship.”


actorman 10 years, 2 months ago

I hated Al Davis but he did have one of the all-time great quotes: "Just win, baby." I can't think of a better quote to apply to KU's win over UCLA. It was ugly, ugly, ugly, but they got the job done. Now let's hope they rise to the level of their competition and take much better care of the ball against Duke.

Alohahawk 10 years, 2 months ago

UGLY! I'll take a win any day, ugly or not. Unfortunately, KU will most likely have a few more "ugly" games this season. I'll definitely take an "ugly" win against Duke.

Al Davis was right. But I'd change it slightly and keep repeating: "Just keep winning, Hawks."

LAJayhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

LAJayhawk's Random Comment of the Game

It has become clear that Thomas Robinson is not a human; rather an action figure constructed by Mattel in order to balance out the effect of the Barbie Doll and make men feel self-conscious about THEIR body image.

This has been LAJayhawk's Random Comment of the Game

onlylookin2score 10 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

melrank 10 years, 2 months ago

Tough crowd - I thought it was funny.

DDDHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

I thought it was funny, also! His physique is the prototype for the successful "beast" we need him to be this year. Go Thomas! Get Duke! Good luck to the team tonight!

Michael Auchard 10 years, 2 months ago

Not hating, nor congratulating this comment. It just sounds a bit Jaybate-ish to me. Which, depending on your leanings, is either a dire insult against your family and good name or a vague compliment.

peter56321 10 years, 2 months ago

I nearly just spit out my coffee. That was funny.

Will Babbit 10 years, 2 months ago

I thought it was funny...

And're a moron

Jared Grillot 10 years, 2 months ago

Nope, definitely funny. Dude's definition doesn't go away even when he's relaxing, so easy to believe he's molded out of plastic.

JayHawkFanToo 10 years, 2 months ago

Maybe we should call him Mr. Rob-oto, as in: "Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto" for all of you Styx fans... I believe the translated chorus goes like this:

Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto Until the day we meet again Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto I want to know your secret

Kind of appropriate, don't you think?

actorman 10 years, 2 months ago

I like it, JayHawkFan! Any Styx reference is good, in my book. And it's quite appropriate to the conversation.

I also like LAJayhawk's comment; it's both pertinent and funny.

Now if only we could get TR to stop trying to be a point guard.

Steve Reigle 10 years, 2 months ago

That is two games in a row where the guys didn't lose their poise when things went south. There is a lot of promise for this season in that.

jhox 10 years, 2 months ago

E.J., you play for the more historic, more storied program. Don't lose sight of that. Just because ESPN is the "All Coach K, all the time channel" doesn't mean you need to look up to them. It should be the other way around.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

clevelandjayhawker 10 years, 2 months ago

+1 Last night hearing Jay Billas say the ESPN's statastican couldnt do his job because he had his pom poms out and was rooting for KU made me laugh; cause tonight he is going to Jay Bias

NH_JHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Kentucky, Georgetown, UCLA, and now Duke (with Ohio St. coming up on 12/10 and USC too)! This has been a real treat during the non-con. Should prepare this team well for B12 action and beyond.

Imperative that we shut down Austin Rivers and Seth Curry tonight if we have any hopes of beating Dook. Those kids have been playing out of their minds so far in Maui putting on a perimeter shooting clinic. Cant wait 'till this one tips off tonight. I believe we have what it takes to snap Dook's Maui winning streak. Somebody's got to do it and it might as well be KU tonight. RCJH!!

Jared Grillot 10 years, 2 months ago

Definitely getting to put ourselves through the paces (or the wringer?) before conference time starts. With this team being something of a question mark before the season started, I can't think of a better way to get them ready for an 8th conference championship run than this stretch of games.

tis4tim 10 years, 2 months ago

1986, 1991, 2000.

These three numbers are the source of my Duke hatred and why I want to crush the Blue Devils tonight. Throw in a pre-season NIT finals loss in 1985, a home loss that I attended in February of 1988, a blowout loss at Cameron in February of 1989 and you have my most-despised college team of all time.

Hank Cross 10 years, 2 months ago

I remember all of those losses. I was at that '88 home loss too. It seemed then that we'd be lucky just to make the tourney.

Mike Kendall 10 years, 2 months ago

I was in attendance for the 1986 game in Dallas (Final 4). That loss really sucked. I think all KU fans have a respectable hatred of the Devils. Love to see us win tonight. Go Jayhawks!

actorman 10 years, 2 months ago

Yep, I was there too, but fortunately I was also there in '88 to see the revenge.

'86 still galls me, though, because if Archie Marshall had stayed healthy there's no question that KU would have won the game. And that of course doesn't even get into Danny Manning's foul trouble.

And speaking of Manning fouls, I still remember the end of the Auburn game in the second round in '85, too; that was the last KU game I got to see as a student. KU had a chance near the end of the game, but then they called an INTENTIONAL foul on Manning when he tried to take a charge! Has anyone ever heard of that happening in any other game, on any level???

Ron Prichard 10 years, 2 months ago

I had a shirt after the 88 season that had the scores of the home losses to KSU, Dook and OU on the front and said, "Don't Beat Us At Home." On the back it had the scores against KSU, Dook and OU from the NCAA tourney and said, "Paybacks Are a B!tch." One of my favorite shirts of all time.

FLJHK 10 years, 2 months ago

But how sweet the redemption in '88. The last three teams we lost to that year: OU, Duke and KSU, were the last three we beat to win the NC.

hawk_of_ages 10 years, 2 months ago

You've left out the biggest ones, Tim: '86 semifinal when Archie Marshall got hurt, '91 final with Grant Hill dunking on us, and 2000 NCAA 2nd round, in which I recall Roy and Coach K yelling at each other at one point.

But we did get some measure of revenge when Collison dominated them in the 2003 Sweet 16. Also, Danny and the Miracles got revenge vs. the Danny Ferry/Quin Snyder-led Devils in the '88 Final 4.

actorman 10 years, 2 months ago

It wasn't just Hill dunking on us, it was Alonzo Jamison having the worst game of his career, going 1 for 10. Kind of like the way Drew Gooden had his worst game in the Final Four against Maryland in 2002.

kranny 10 years, 2 months ago

I remember sweet revenge against Puke in the Final Roar of that same year en route to the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP even more though.

refugee 10 years, 2 months ago

Question? Do we play the Maui next year?

Steve Gantz 10 years, 2 months ago

Probably not. Maui spreads it around so a lot of different teams have the opportunity to play.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 2 months ago

I know they rotate it around each year, but for some reason I think there is some unwritten rule that you can't play in Maui for 5 years. That is why KU will rotate around the Maui, LV Invitational, PreSeason NIT, and a couple of others.

actorman 10 years, 2 months ago

I don't think teams are allowed to play in the same tournament two years in a row. I'm pretty sure that's some kind of rule.

actorman 10 years, 2 months ago

Whoops, I guess jhawkrulz beat me to the punch.

Dynamite, do you mean Atlanta? Or does KU have some kind of special exemption to play on a lost continent?

hawksince51 10 years, 2 months ago

Wow, EJ really had a great game. I had long thought he had great potential but his minutes were limited his first 2 years by the OAD's. Good for him for hanging in there until he finally got his shot. Except for some bad TO's TR had another good game. Withey was more of a presence, did not foul out and could have played the 25 minutes that I feel we will generally need from him. Releford had some key plays but I still would like to see him assert himself more often. Lack of scoring from the bench is a major concern. Duke is tough but we are capable of making a game out of it.

Gene Jackson 10 years, 2 months ago

Before the first game in Maui, the announcers were wondering who the third person would be for the Jayhawks - who would step and and score and be effective besides Taylor and Robinson. It is now obvious that EJ is that third player. His button was pushed when he confidently drove into the lane and made a layup with the moves of a polished veteran during that first game. EJ has arrived!

Steve Gantz 10 years, 2 months ago

Gonna be tough. Kentucky showed us how we measure up against an elite team. I don't think Duke is quite as good as Kentucky. I didn't keep track but we turned the ball over way too many times last night. We need to learn to covet our possessions. We have some scorers, Travis and EJ are showing why we've been talking about giving them more minutes in the last years. Tonight will be a great indicator of where this team is.

joeloveshawks 10 years, 2 months ago

I hate Duke. I can't really pinpoint what I hate the most about Duke but it is a feeling I have had since they beat us in the 1991 National Championship Game with Hurley and Hill and Laettner. Not sure if other KU fans feel the same but I can't even express how much I want us to win this game...even though it is only November.

mikehawk 10 years, 2 months ago

This team is very interesting to watch in their development, which has a long way to go, despite these wins. Let's not forget that. With that said, I thought one very interesting stretch is when the house was caving in around them last night, they didn't appear to panic, which is good. But, they also seemed to go through a stretch of looking around for someone to take charge and say "I'm going to get us a basket." It looked like they were all looking at each other at the moment they would have been looking for one of the twins last year. No one seemed to want that role for awhile, and then, suddenly, TRob took the job and stopped the bleeding by not being cute and going to the rack and grabbing rebounds without hesitation. It seemed to calm everyone. Despite Elijah's perimeter prowess last night, the inside game is very much lacking, but you can see it is in development which requires TRob and our big boy getting lots of PT. You can see Withey is growing in confidence by the minute. Travis remains on teetering between finding his role and confidence, and at times being unsure of his capacities. He was at this point last year when he got hurt and that was that. I think he has a chance to become, not a star, but a solid veteran who is the type of player you have to have to compete for championships. When he does something really good he almost seems surprised. This team can hit free throws fairly well which gets you anywhere from 5 to 10 additional points we haven't been able to count on since the 08 team. And, they seem to appreciate the ticket for them is really defense to have any chance beating the elite teams. I think tonight will be a better measure of this team than the game against Kentucky. Win or lose tonight, this team has a chance to be platformed for the potential to exceed a lot of people's "on paper" expectations. This season may not always be fun and pretty, but it will be interesting.

planojayhawk 10 years, 2 months ago


We need TRob to recognize the double team on him better by finding and passing to other open teammates.

We need the mid-range game.

Defense is pretty good now, except we still lots of work on defending the 3 balls.

We really need to improve our bench, especially on the offensive end.

JHawk74 10 years, 2 months ago

Our team shouldn't panic when things go bad. We have mostly Junior & Seniors on the floor. Most of the players don't have major experience but they are mature enough to handle the pressure. Also we have former bench players now getting their opportunity to be the stars of the team and they are getting better after each game. I'm really impressed with Justin Wesley so far this season. If he keeps improving he could be a true asset during conference play. Rock Chalk!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 2 months ago

The Good - we won, the Bad - a bushel full of turnovers, the Ugly - our shoes and socks.

Win, lose or draw tonight, I am totally encouraged by what I've seen from the Hawks.

We will dominate teams of equal or lesser ability and we will be competitive with teams favored over us.

I wasn't sure that was going to be the case, but I think come March, barring any injuries, Kansas will be a very, very, very dangerous team!!

Mahalo and aloha, Hawks

KGphoto 10 years, 2 months ago

We had 18 turnovers to the Bruin's 14. 8 of those came from Robinson and Withey. probably 6 of those came when they put the ball on the floor in traffic. UCLA was ready for that and took advantage. Hopefully Self and Manning drill that into their heads before the Duke game tonight.

At least we weren't wearing white pantyhose like Reeves Nelson.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

I'm glad they were pantyhose. I thought they might be solid white tattoos to offset the ones on his arms.

BCRavenJHawkfan 10 years, 2 months ago

One of the things that has bothered me during the Self era is the propensity to squander big leads. It is as if the simple object of the game is forgotten, and that is to simply get the ball in the basket (Naismith basketball 101).

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 2 months ago

I can't agree with that. You need to look back at Self's total time at KU. I don't remember it happening until 2009 when the team seemed to relax and start coasting on their lead. 2010 was a little bit that way. Momentum swings happen, and if the losing team has any talent at all they are going to make a run. Instead of panicking and just trying to hold on, this group stepped it up and got most (all but 3 points) of the lead back.

hawk_of_ages 10 years, 2 months ago

That's an odd criticism considering the stat cited in the piece -- KU's last biggest choke came vs. Arizona in the Roy era. Of course, we got our revenge later that year -- which was, incidentally, the same tourney run when we last played (and beat) Duke.

BCRavenJHawkfan 10 years, 2 months ago

I did not say a blown lead as in lost. I specifically mean leads that are squandered but KU still wins.

Kristospherein 10 years, 2 months ago

I saw Duke play Davidson (who isn't great or particularly big this year) and Duke looked pedestrian in the first half. They played great D in the second and still only won by 11. When they don't get the ball to their bigs, they are vulnerable because Curry and Rivers aren't great 3-point shooters. They rely on pull-up jump shots WAAAY too much. They are very good at them but I think their reliance on them (say over 3s) is something to exploit.

That being said, I don't think we match up well against them. We don't shoot the 3 particularly well and that is the way to beat Duke. Elijah Johnson and Teahan are going to be the keys because they're going to have to hit some 3s for us to have a shot. I have a feeling that Tyshawn Taylor is going to get in over his head in the lane more often than not due to the presence of Duke's bigs. Thomas Robinson is going to have use all of the athleticism he has to score.

Duke isn't the type of team to blow us out unless we play like absolute crap but we're going to have to have a great game all-around to beat them.

NH_JHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Actually, Seth Curry is a great 3pt shooter (apparently it runs in the family). Last season he shot over 43% from the arc and he's shooting almost 60% (58.3% to be precise) from trey land this year....this according to the sportsline stat sheets. Rivers is shooting almost 37% from 3 so far.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 2 months ago

I think a win is a win, but we need our starting 5 to show up against Duke. We also have to play perimeter defense. Duke is amazing from the 3 and we have struggled defending it.

The inside game was not good against UCLA, but fortunately our outside shooters were solid especially EJ and TReleford.

In the paint I thought we didn't do well, except on transition (even then there were a couple fast breaks that were sloppy).

How many times did TRob put it on the paint and either turned it over or we got lucky that we some how came up with a loose ball. And really did he really take a 3 with like 25-30 sec on the shot clock. He has to get his shot selection better. He had some good shots from about 15 feet out, but he went to that hole quite a bit. He has done a good job of staying out of foul trouble at the tourney.

TT was solid, and I've been pretty impressed with the freshman Tharpe, in that when he spells TT with usually a lot of the bench he has managed the game to even or moved KU in the positive while he has been on the court.

Poor Withey, I think the Refs just hate him. He is getting more touch fouls than anyone I've seen in a while. He'll need some court time in order for us to win.

I think Wesley everyone has been happy with his defense and his athletic abilities; however, he has had foul trouble as well. I'd love for out bigs to stay out of foul trouble.

Chayse Patrick 10 years, 2 months ago

Duke is good with more depth than KU has. The starters will have to all play a solid 40 and have a little help from our bench. GO HAWKS!!!!!

Hank Cross 10 years, 2 months ago

Agree - Releford needs to finish stronger. I don't know if it's his anke or he is afraid of making a turnover. But, he's getting there. By conference time he'll be fine.

REHawk 10 years, 2 months ago

When T-Rob gets swarmed outside the paint, our perimeter players must rotate more quickly to be available for outlet passes. A couple of times last night he got trapped, and our perimeter guys stayed glued in a spread rather than racing to assistance. The moment he is able to deliver that outlet pass, he and Withey (or Wesley) must race to the paint, drawing the swarm for a lob or freeing our 3 perimeter players for an open 3. Withey's game has reached medium heat. Sometime soon we are going to watch it in full sizzle.

FreddyinLA 10 years, 2 months ago

Ben Holland must have been put on notice by the higher ups that his style of play is a huge turn-off to the LA crowd. His teams were competitive, but unwatchable. Grabbing the opponent every time they moved on defense and doing everything to keep the game in the 50s will not attract elite talent, even at UCLA.

The results of his actions are the current edition of UCLA, no talent and overmatched when playing a more up-tempo game.

Joe Baker 10 years, 2 months ago

This is the real EJ-

“I felt we were in control. Coach (Bill Self) is too good a coach to let us blow a lead like that regardless of how we were playing on the court. Coach had a plan. He’s too good a coach. It’s why he’s Bill Self,” Johnson added.

I don't think he believes in Self too much? LOL- He totally gets it. This is special when a player is 110% on board with a coach's program and it shows in every way.

Beat Dook

Orangedog87 10 years, 2 months ago

Cant imagine a better game the evening before Thanksgiving.

Go Hawks. RCJHKU!

This has been a fun tournament to watch so far..keep it up.

Adam James 10 years, 2 months ago

Forgive me for the K-State comparison here, but if EJ went to K-State he would be just like Jacob Pullen. EJ wasn't able to get his opportunity as quickly because of our depth, but now he has his chance. EJ is much more explosive and athletic, but their shooting and ability to get into the lane are almost identical. There is no doubt that as the season goes on and he gets more minutes that he will continue to be a threat.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 2 months ago

I don't think I can forgive you for comparing EJ to a wildcat.

Just by putting on the jersey of a Jayhawk he is better than any player ever at KSU. Let alone the fact that he is a way better player than pullen ever dreamed of being.

Bee Bee 10 years, 2 months ago

Withey is going to need more than a two point, five foul game tonight. Step your game up big fella!

Priest Fontaine 10 years, 2 months ago

Elijah, keep up the hot shooting, but please lose that under shirt. Such a bad look. Always has been.

RockChalk26 10 years, 2 months ago

If he has more games like last night, he can wear whatever he likes :)

hawksince51 10 years, 2 months ago

Yes, we have had some big losses to Duke in the final 4 ('86, 91) but our win in the semis against them in '88 was enough revenge for me. I do not hate them at all; as a basketball fan I admire Coach K and their program. I always cheer for them against their instate rival. I do hate losing to them though and hope I go to bed tonight with nothing to hate. I save all my hate for Sat. Rock Chalk

Hank Cross 10 years, 2 months ago

I hate UT worse than Duke and MU. Duke never endangered KUBB by threatening to blow up the conference. MU did what it had to do and I don't blame them.

Alohahawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Jack, the Giant Killers:

Little known Chaminade beats the Ralph Sampson led Virginia team (or was it Maryland?) in the college upset of the century.

In a minor upset, the 2011 Maui Invitational Tournament ends with a sensational game. KU, # 2 all time in wins, defeats Duke, # 4 in wins, with a final shot, buzzer beater. Led by the defense of its triple point guard tandem of Taylor, Johnson and Tharpe, KU pulls off the win. The buzzer beater, however was performed by the Invitational's MVP, Thomas Robinson, who used one of his patented thunder dunks to overpower Duke's over-matched centers. Further details to follow.

chicagojayhawk87 10 years, 2 months ago

I think if our bigs show up and our guards play D we will get this win. The Plumlees are over hyped, and if we can get Withey to stay out of foul trouble and maybe get some points from Wesley we should be good. I think our guards need to play smart, no more stupid second half turnovers.

Also, I would like to see less Teahan and more Sharp. I know they dont play the same position, but man I think Teahan is slow, not bashing, but Duke is a fast team.

KU 82 Duke 76

Dan Harris 10 years, 2 months ago

Go root for someone else your not welcome on this thred debbie downer or are you even a KU fan alice!!??

Dan Harris 10 years, 2 months ago

Sorrrrrrrry for the poor grammer before the police come out and slap the sheet ouy of me

Hank Cross 10 years, 2 months ago

We probably lose tonight if Duke plays good D. I don't see anyone on this team who is as of yet capable of throwing the team on his back and go on a tear in the face of stiff opposition.

And - that's OK. I can't see this team getting much further than the S16 if they are lucky. But, they are building a foundation of EJ, Travis, Tharpe and even Withey that could be something very special next year - especially if T-Rob stays.

Curtis Stutz 10 years, 2 months ago

I'm not worried about the ceiling on this team, it doesn't have one as far as I'm concerned.

They may struggle at times during the season without as many people that can come in and have a big game. The twins had TRob on the bench who could have a big game here and there, or Selby did it for the team from time to time last year. Talent like EJ and Releford were also always ready to go if the team really needed them. This team doesn't have that luxury and could drop some games here and there KU normally wouldn't.

Come tourney time that doesn't matter, it's 6 games. If these guys have come together and improved all season long and hit the tourney in full stride, they're capable of beating anybody and winning a regional.

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