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.”


phogphan2000 2 years, 4 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.


Hank Cross 2 years, 4 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.


Lebowski 2 years, 4 months ago

TRob is not ready on this early date to lead this team to where it needs to be. Neither is Tyshawn. I just hope Self finds a way to get them to deliver on that by March. A loss tonight is likely and no big deal. Hopefully it's a good learning opportunity KU will take advantage of.


hihawk 2 years, 4 months ago

We struggled against UCLA, what is next? I am about ready to get out gill's football tapes of our football team of this year. Duke will take this game tonight with ease. Duke 86 KU 71


chicagojayhawk87 2 years, 4 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


Alohahawk 2 years, 4 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.


hawksince51 2 years, 4 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


Priest Fontaine 2 years, 4 months ago

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


danno1313 2 years, 4 months ago

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


Adam James 2 years, 4 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.


Orangedog87 2 years, 4 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.


William Blake 2 years, 4 months ago

That was the first real sparkle I've seen out of EJ this year, so far. I'm hopeful it is just the beginning for him because he has a lot more to offer than he has been giving. It's a confidence issue.... And we need every ounce of EJ we can get out of him!

EJ has the potential to be one of our best defenders. We went through this with him last year. At the beginning of the year he was rough and it cost him plenty of PT. Then, at a certain time he stepped up and put in a few stellar performances on D... showing us what his potential is to swarm a player in isolation.

The key to success with this team will be defense. It is the great equalizer in basketball. Anyone can learn to play good defense and once learned throw in hustle and you will be in a ball game regardless who you play. Throw on top of that the ability to control tempo plus win the possession battle and you can guarantee a win. We already do a good job on the boards, and we have the potential to limit TOs and cause them on the other end. We aren't too bad at run outs, too.

In one paragraph I summarized what it will take to have a successful year.


Joe Baker 2 years, 4 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


FreddyinLA 2 years, 4 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.


REHawk 2 years, 4 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.


Ralster Jayhawk 2 years, 4 months ago

Good comments. We need more verticality out of Releford--will help his rebounding numbers and his "finishing around the rim". Maybe its a subconscious lingering about his ankle, I am purely speculating...


stanleys 2 years, 4 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!!!!!


jhawkrulz 2 years, 4 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.


Kristospherein 2 years, 4 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.


BCRavenJHawkfan 2 years, 4 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).


Tony Bandle 2 years, 4 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


Scut Farkus 2 years, 4 months ago

How about a little love for Releford. No TO's, 8pts, 2-3 3P's, a solid game.


mikehawk 2 years, 4 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.


joeloveshawks 2 years, 4 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.


Steve Gantz 2 years, 4 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.


Gene Jackson 2 years, 4 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!


hawksince51 2 years, 4 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.


refugee 2 years, 4 months ago

Question? Do we play the Maui next year?


tis4tim 2 years, 4 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.


NH_JHawk 2 years, 4 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!!


jhwkfan162515 2 years, 4 months ago

What a turnaround. We beat a pariah, a has-been, a former power; now we play a true powerhouse, a current power.


jhox 2 years, 4 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.


iamakufan 2 years, 4 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.


LAJayhawk 2 years, 4 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


actorman 2 years, 4 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.


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