Despite sluggish play, Jayhawks cruise

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Thomas Robinson recorded his sixth straight double-double of the season - leading all scorers with 19 points and 17 rebounds - as the Kansas Jayhawks overcame another turnover-filled performance to cruise past the visiting Florida Atlantic Owls, 77-54.

A "Hawaiian Hangover" sounds like a cool beverage one might enjoy on the beaches of paradise, in a glass beaded with condensation and complete with a tiny umbrella.

In Lawrence, Kan., however, it's not a libation. At least not Wednesday night, inside the muggy confines of Allen Fieldhouse. Instead, it was one of the motivating factors behind a sluggish performance from the Kansas Jayhawks, in their first action since returning from last week's EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Sure, they emerged victorious from their mid-week contest with Florida Atlantic, and by a wide marge – 77-54. But the Jayhawks achieved the difficult task of making a 23-point victory look like a grind-it-out affair.

"It was the Hawaiin Hangover," said Kansas head coach Bill Self in the post game, with a slight smile. "Too much pineapple juice on the islands I guess."

The Jayhawks looked out of sync from the get-go, and the speedy, scrappy - if undersized - Owls came out fired up and ready to play, jumping out to a 9-3 lead.

Kansas got a spark from an unexpected source, however, in the form of Conner Teahan. Beginning with one he splashed at the 12:21 mark, during the next three minutes the senior guard hit three-straight three-point buckets - the last of which gave Kansas a 22-16 lead.

Teahan won't get that many open looks every night, Self said, but he liked his aggressive offensive approach Wednesday night.

"But, really, Conner was the biggest reason we got ahead," he explained. "When we put him in he just gave us instant offense and all of a sudden we went from being in the hole and he gave us a little breathing room. We played a lot better after that."

Many of the usual suspects for Kansas struggled all game to find their groove. Tyshawn Taylor scored 18 points but turned it over four times to just one assist. Thomas Robinson attained yet another double-double - his sixth straight - with his 19 points and 17 rebounds, but shot just 4-of-13 from the floor. Despite holding a serious size advantage, Jeff Withey scored just 10 points and grabbed a startling two rebounds.

It was Elijah Johnson who found the sledding toughest of them all, however. The junior combo guard failed to register a single point and turned the ball over seven times, with three assists, in 27 minutes of action.

"He is still in Hawaii," Self said. "He didn't get hungover, he got left there. That was really a poor night for him, and he wasn't able to change it which was a little frustrating."

In truth, the Kansas guards have struggled mightily with turnovers since the season-opening victory over Towson, during which they doled out 30 assists to just five turnovers. In the five games that followed, however, as Self noted in the post-game, the Jayhawks starting trio in the backcourt have turned it over 46 times to just 36 assists.

Ball security has become a problem - to put it mildly.

"When you talk about assist to turnover ratio, nobody is like that," Self said. "At least (not anyone) that's got a winning record. So we've got to tighten that up. It's ridiculously careless."

To Withey, post-Maui jet lag had little to do with the slow start Wednesday night, stating the team had to find a way to put two consistent halves together if it truly wanted to be great.

"Today we definitely came out pretty slow in the first half and even in the second half," he said. "We definitely need to change that. I think that happens too often for our team."

The season is still early, Robinson added, which contributed to the lapses in focus.

"We've got 30 more games probably, so it's going to be here probably for a couple more games," he said. "I think we're a little ahead of schedule but at the same time we want to keep moving. Eventually we will become a good team for 40 straight minutes."

The Jayhawks held a 42-26 lead at halftime, and held off a late surge from the Owls to push the advantage back out to 23 when the final buzzer sounded.

Robinson led all scorers with his 17. Four Jayhawks scored in double-figures – Robinson, Withey, Taylor and Releford, while guard Pablo Bertone led Florida Atlantic with 17 points and 12 rebounds of his own.

Kansas next takes the court Saturday versus South Florida. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:15 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN.


Phog.net Top Stories