University of Kansas

KU races to early lead, advances to final of CBE Hall of Fame Classic by downing UAB 83-63

KU's Josh Jackson threw down an early dunk after getting by UAB's Dirk Williams during the first half of Monday night's CBE Classic semi-final game at the Sprint Center.
KU's Josh Jackson threw down an early dunk after getting by UAB's Dirk Williams during the first half of Monday night's CBE Classic semi-final game at the Sprint Center. rsugg@kcstar.com

It took UAB’s basketball team a good, long while to score a single point against No. 5-ranked Kansas on Monday night in the Sprint Center.

The Jayhawks, who in the words of coach Bill Self, looked like a “tired team” during Friday’s 21-point home victory over Siena, three nights later appeared energized in racing to a 17-0 lead in the first six minutes. They upped the margin to 22 points (25-3) en route to an 83-63 victory over the Blazers in the semifinals of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

“That’s very wild,” KU sophomore forward Carlton Bragg said of a team opening such a big margin in the first 6 1/2 minutes of a game.

“That’s just defense. It’s what coach emphasizes every day in practice,” Bragg added.d

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UAB (2-2) missed its first 12 shots as the Jayhawks opened a 25-3 lead. The lead did dip to five points (33-28) late in the first half, but was hiked to nine by halftime and soared to 18 again in the final half before dropping back to 10.

The game ended on a high note for KU with the Jayhawks (3-1) winning by 20 and advancing into Tuesday’s final against Georgia (3-1), an 81-73 winner over George Washington in Monday’s other semifinal. The final will start approximately 9 p.m. in Sprint Center — 30 minutes after a 6:30 p.m. game between UAB and GWU.

“We came out with energy. I think everybody’s mind was right. We came in focused trying to do the little things we’ve been watching on film,” said junior guard Devonté Graham. He scored 16 points, dished seven assists and swiped three of KU’s 10 steals.

“It shows how we can defend when we are energized and fresh to start the game,” Self said. His squad didn’t allow a field goal until Chris Cokley hit a running hook shot with 9:59 left in the first half.

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“I thought we played bad defense the second half of the first half,” Self added. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get to the free-throw line. When we get there, it’d be nice if we made some,” he added after a 9-for-19 performance at the stripe. “We’re putting other people on the line too much (18 of 26). We’re giving people free points. How many times do we foul 40-feet from the basket or more to give the other team free points? We’ve got to correct those things.”

The Jayhawks, who hit 12 of 27 threes to UAB’s five of 17, were not happy about seeing that early 22-point lead dip to five.

“Coach was telling us we’ve got to maintain energy,” Graham said. “We can’t think the game is over after that (17-0 surge). That’s kind of what we did.”

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“I feel we relaxed when we got up 15,” noted Svi Mykhailiuk, who hit four threes in five tries and scored 15 points.

He said Self warned the Jayhawks to not let up.

“Of course. (He tells us) every game. It happens every time. We have to be focused and fight through it,” Mykhailiuk added.

The Jayhawks hit 50.8 percent of their shots to UAB’s 35.7 on a night Josh Jackson scored a career-high 22 points off 8-of-15 shooting while adding seven rebounds and three steals. Jackson, who was named Big 12 newcomer of the week on Monday, had the play of the game — a phenomenal one-handed dunk with 4:14 remaining. He also slammed for the first points of the game.

“SC Top 10,” Graham said of the dunk certain to be shown on ESPN.

“It felt good,” Jackson said. “I heard Russell Westbrook say, ‘I dunk so hard nobody challenges me,’ so that’s what I try to do.”

Jackson missed three of four threes and was 5 of 9 from the line.

“The best play he made all night,” Self said, “was his last pass to Svi. He was going lefthanded, off balance throws a left handed hook pass to a guy wide open. It’s not going to be on SportsCenter but was his best play of the night. There are a lot of things he can work on. He is a talented kid. I don’t know if we’ve had anybody that size (6-foot-8) that good with the ball.”

Senior guard Frank Mason scored 20 points off 8-of-13 shooting (3 of 6 from three). He had five assists, three steals and four turnovers.

“I know everybody in our locker room appreciates him and understands his value,” Self said. “The last two games he’s just been OK and gets 18 and 20. That’s nice. I do think we have to limit his minutes (35 on Monday).”

Mason went down hard under the goal late in the game, but Self said he was “fine.”

Self is hoping for a better crowd for Tuesday’s final versus SEC school Georgia. Just 10,071 attended Monday’s game.

“I love this building. It wasn’t a great crowd obviously. There were a lot of empty seats. Hopefully the fans can come out and see a good game tomorrow. Georgia’s good and it’ll be a competitive game with good athletes on the floor,” Self said.

The Jayhawks are slated to return to the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in 2020. Missouri will compete in the event in 2019.

Ehsan’s take

UAB coach Robert Ehsan on the game: “It was a disappointing start for us, giving them the early lead. We had a tough time scoring (five of 17 threes and 18 of 26 from line). We were trying to play catch up the whole time. I thought we showed some good fight for certain periods of the game. We couldn’t get over the hump. When they shoot it like that, they can beat anyone in the country. And they have, obviously. Tough to beat.”

Of Josh Jackson, Ehsan said: “I think he’s good. I saw him in high school as most people did. But the more I’ve watched him on film, he’s an extremely talented player. His versatility is what I’ve been surprised with. How many different things he can do on the floor: right hand, left hand, drive, post up. Obviously he is very athletic. I think he’s a tremendous player.”

Wooten lists five schools

Kenny Wooten, a 6-8 senior forward from Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas, on Monday announced a list of five: KU, Arizona, USC, Cal and Oregon. He is not ranked by Rivals.com or ESPN.com. Once committed to Nevada, he is originally from Manteca, Calif. He told Rivals.com he might enroll at a college for second-semester classes but not play in games until next season.

KANSAS 83, UAB 63

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

UAB

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Cokley

17

2-9

0-0

4

3

4

Lee

19

1-7

2-2

4

1

4

Baxter

23

1-5

2-2

2

1

5

Lavender

27

3-4

2-2

5

1

8

D.Williams

29

4-6

1-2

2

2

13

Mehinti

23

3-8

4-6

8

4

10

Madison

22

4-6

4-8

2

3

12

Watts

20

1-6

1-2

3

2

3

J.Williams

15

0-3

2-2

4

0

2

Darling

4

1-1

0-0

0

0

2

Smallwood

2

0-2

0-0

1

0

0

Sullivan

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Totals

200

20-57

18-26

35

17

63

Percentages: FG .351, FT .692. Three-Point Goals: 5-17, .294 (D.Williams 4-6, Baxter 1-2, Madison 0-1, Smallwood 0-1, Lee 0-3, Watts 0-4). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked Shots: 2 (Lee, Mehinti). Turnovers: 20 (Cokley 4, Baxter 3, D.Williams 3, Lavender 3, Lee 3, Madison 2, Mehinti, Sullivan). Steals: 6 (J.Williams 2, Cokley, D.Williams, Lee, Mehinti). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Bragg

22

2-6

1-2

5

3

5

Lucas

15

1-1

0-0

6

4

2

Graham

34

6-12

0-0

3

3

16

Jackson

33

8-15

5-9

7

2

22

Mason

36

8-13

1-2

2

3

20

Mykhailiuk

23

5-8

1-2

5

1

15

Azubuike

16

1-1

1-2

7

4

3

Vick

11

0-3

0-0

2

1

0

Coleby

3

0-1

0-0

1

0

0

Lightfoot

3

0-1

0-2

0

0

0

Self

2

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Young

2

0-0

0-0

1

0

0

Vang

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Totals

200

31-61

9-19

39

21

83

Percentages: FG .508, FT .474. Three-Point Goals: 12-27, .444 (Mykhailiuk 4-5, Graham 4-9, Mason 3-6, Jackson 1-4, Vick 0-3). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 5 (Azubuike 2, Bragg 2, team). Turnovers: 16 (Mason 4, Graham 3, Jackson 3, Vick 3, Azubuike 2, Mykhailiuk). Steals: 10 (Graham 3, Jackson 3, Mason 3, Vick). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: None.

Half: Kansas 39-30. Attendance: 10,071.

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