Coach Bill Self tweaked his starting lineup, inserting freshman forward Cliff Alexander in place of junior Jamari Traylor. It was Alexander’s second start, the first being in a road loss Dec. 22 at Temple.
It started slow — Alexander had two turnovers in the opening minutes — but he responded with 10 points and four blocks.
“Cliff’s first two passes,” Self joked, “if fans in the 10th row weren’t alert, he could have maybe hurt somebody. Nobody is going to accuse him of being Bill Walton passing the ball out of the post.”
Traylor, who entered Tuesday averaging 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, had started 12 straight games.
Alexander, meanwhile, appeared poised for a breakout after some strong performances in the nonconference season. But he struggled the last four games, averaging just 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.
For the season, though, Alexander’s numbers have surpassed Traylor’s in fewer minutes. Alexander entered Tuesday averaging 8.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while playing just 18.4 minutes per game.
“I (had) to come out and play aggressive,” Alexander said., “play how I usually play.”
▪ Kansas reached the 20-victory mark for the 26th straight season, dating to the 1989-90 season.
▪ Sophomore Brannen Greene made two of three three-pointers and is now shooting 52.3 percent from long distance. KU’s season record is 50.5, set by Kirk Hinrich in 2000-01.
▪ Key play: Wayne Selden drilled a three-pointer from the wing in the final seconds, extending the Jayhawks’ lead to 27-22.
▪ Key stat: KU had eight turnovers.
▪ Key play: Frank Mason opened the half with a three-pointer, pushing KU’s lead to eight points.
▪ Key stat: KU hit its first six threes of the half.