Jayhawks Grind Out 87-60 Win

The videotape of Kansas' blue-collar 27-point win over the Kent State Golden Flashes Monday night at Allen Field House won't be overnighted to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but that didn't bother head coach Bill Self too much. In fact, he thought it was just the kind of game his young team needed.

“I thought it was a great game for us because they muddied up the game,” Bill Self said. “Those are the games you have to win come conference play on the road and in tournament play is games where there's not a lot of rhythm, to play through that.”

“That's probably as sound as we've been. Except for missed layups, we were pretty efficient,” he added.

Playing through it wasn't easy, though. It didn't take Kent State long before they started committing chippy fouls. As the game progressed, the Flashes got more and more frustrated and physical. The pot finally boiled over four minutes into the second half when players from both squads went after a loose ball at the Kansas end. The bodies started hitting the floor, and at one point, Kent State's Chris Singletary threw an elbow and appeared to throw a punch at KU forward Markieff Morris. He reacted and committed a flagrant foul, resulting in the officials encouraging Morris to explore other recreational activities for the rest of the evening.

“It was a flagrant foul, so that just means you get ejected from that game,” Self explained. He was also careful to say that the altercation was not a “fight,” just a flagrant foul, and Morris will not be suspended or disciplined.

Self was also pleased with his team's defense and with returning veteran guard Sherron Collins.

The Jayhawks held Kent State's Al Fisher, scoring machine and 2007-08 Mid-American Conference player of the year, to just five points on 2-of-11 shooting and three assists against five turnovers in 31 minutes. Self credited freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor, who is starting to emerge from the pack of Baby Jayhawks as Voted-Most-Likely-to-Become-KU's-Lockdown-Defender.

“We did a good job on Fisher. He scored 27 of the last 28 points in the St. Louis game. I thought Tyshawn did a great job on him,” Self said.

Taylor has embraced the role of up-and-coming defensive stopper and playing 30 minutes a night for the defending national champions, Self said, which is “a pretty good gig.” But he's still got work ahead of him.

“I'm still not convinced he's a lockdown defender,” Self said of Taylor, smiling, “but he's moving in that direction. I see a guy that's 6-3, he's long, he can slide, he's quick as a cat, he's got good hands. There's no reason why, if he learns positioning and has toughness, that he can't be a good defender.”

On the other end of the court, Sherron Collins went into the halftime locker room with just three points but finished with 19, a bunch of them coming down the stretch when Kent State just wouldn't go away.

Collins made two free throws with 8:06 left in the game to build KU's lead to 20 at 67-47. The Flashes, however, scored the next eight points to whittle the lead back down to 12 with 6:13 left.

In the next three minutes, Collins drove the lane and made a layup, did it again, made a medium-range jumper, connected on two free throws, made a steal and dished an assist to Marcus Morris for a traditional three-point play. In that same stretch, Kent State made one free throw. The score was 78-56, and thanks to our visitors from Ohio for stopping by.

Self said Collins single-handedly held a very good Kent State team at bay when they could have made a run.

“He was good down the stretch. He showed why he's one of the best guards around, because it wasn't anybody's game, but he made sure that we were never threatened.”

One other bright spot was KU's free throw shooting. Thanks to a jillion Kent State fouls, KU had 36 opportunities to step up to the stripe. They made good on 32 of them for an 88.9% clip.

KU gets Tuesday night off before returning to Naismith Court to take on the New Mexico State Lobos. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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