KU Sweeps Border War, Basketball Edition

Rush gets 19 to pace five ‘Hawks in double figures; Kaun and Aldrich give Jayhawks a big first-half boost. More from Jim Williamson, inside.

Darrell Arthur played with startling efficiency in both halves Monday night in a 90-71 win over archrival Missouri.

It took the super sophomore just two minutes to score a bucket and pick up three fouls.

Then he scored 11 points in 12 minutes in the second half.

In the interim, KU coach Bill Self looked down the bench and saw Sasha Kaun, who filled the void just fine, thanks. He scored 12 points, eight on shots that would win just about any game of HORSE this side of Larry Bird’s house. He also added three rebounds, all on the offensive end.

Cole Aldrich played 12 minutes and scored six points. More importantly, though, he pulled down nine rebounds, four on the offensive end, and forced Missouri players into altering shots from close range.

“Sasha and Cole bailed us out the first half,” KU coach Bill Self said. “It’s ridiculous Shady (Arthur) gets three fouls in two minutes, but Sasha and Cole played so well tonight, it didn’t matter.”

“Cole played terrific. I thought he did an awesome job,” Kaun said.

Aldrich credited an amped-up Big Monday Allen Field House crowd for his performance. “We had a great crowd out there tonight. It was crazy. That gives us an extra boost.”

Self marveled at the improvement Aldrich has made since the opening of practice and credited the Minnesotan himself, his coaches and his teammates.

“He’s just gotten better,” he said. “Cole’s smart and he picks up stuff quick. He’ll tell you there  are a lot of things he needs to get better at, but he amazes me. Our players would tell you, from Late Night to now, it’s unbelievable the progress he’s made. Danny (Manning) has done a great job with him, but the other three big guys (Kaun, Arthur and Darnell Jackson) have done a great job with him.”

Kansas never trailed in the game, getting off to a quick 5-0 start on a Brandon Rush three-ball and a dunk by Arthur, courtesy of a Rush assist.

MU’s latest delivery from the Lithuanian pipeline, Vaidotas Volkus, hit two free throws with 2:30 gone to tie the game at 7-7. MU knotted the score twice more: at 11 all and 13 all just minutes later. From then on, though, the Jayhawks steadily and efficiently built a lead.

A 7-0 lick made the KU lead 25-17 with 10:45 left in the first half. Missouri played well for much of the period, but Kansas played just a little bit better. At each media time-out, KU seemed to have added three or four more points to their lead. Kansas led, 45-33, by the time the intermission rolled around.

The second half saw more of the same. KU went on 6-0 and 9-0 mini-runs in the second half to very quietly separate themselves from the Tigers. Kansas’ largest lead was 25 with 5:29 left in the game.

Self blamed much of Arthur’s foul trouble – and Mizzou guard Keon Lawrence’s 25 points – on his own backcourt.

“Our guards don’t understand that the big guys foul more when (an opponent’s) guards get in the paint. We’ve got to do a better job of guarding the ball.”

“It’s a give and take: we don’t guard on the perimeter, but our big guys have really started to rebound the ball better,” Self conceded. KU nearly doubled the Tigers up in rebounding, 48-25. The Jayhawks were particularly impressive on the offensive boards, pulling down 19.

Self said, “We missed 35 shots and got 19 of ‘em back, so anytime you’re above fifty percent, that’s really good. We did a real good job on the glass at both ends, I thought.”

Brandon Rush continued to heed his mother’s advice, staying aggressive, looking for his shot and taking defenders off the dribble. Rush had 19 points to lead Kansas. He added six rebounds. Self said a quick beginning to the game is important for Rush to get into an offensive flow.

“He got off to a good start and made a three right off the bat,” Self said.

Kaun and Rush were joined in double-figures by Arthur with 13, Mario Chalmers with 15 and Sherron Collins with 12.

Chalmers and backcourt mate Russell Robinson combined for 10 assists (four for Robinson, six for Chalmers) against just two turnovers (one apiece).

Missouri was led in points and rebounds by Keon Lawrence – all 6-2 of him – with 25 points and six rebounds. DeMarre Carroll, J.T. Miller and Leo Lyons each added 13. Only two other MU players scored and they combined for just seven points.

Self’s concern for about his guard play is especially germane with a much-improved, guard-heavy Baylor squad coming to Allen Field House this Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We’ve got to tighten up a lot of things before we play Baylor because Baylor has as good a group of guards as there are in our league,” Self said.

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