No Loss in a Month-a-Saturdays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KU's 30-game home-winning streak is over. Buoyed by a 22-4 run late in the first half, Massachusetts controlled Kansas and held on late for a stunning 61-60 victory at Sprint Center on Saturday.

KU led just once the second half, but had one last chance to win the game after Chris Lowe missed two free throws with 20 seconds remaining (his third straight miss in 16 seconds).

Sherron Collins, whose three-pointer with 30 seconds left brought KU to within one (61-60), came off a screen and tossed up a lefty floater in the lane, which was slightly blocked by Tony Gaffney. Conner Teahan grabbed the rebound with three seconds remaining, but was caught underneath the basket and passed to Tyrel Reed, whose shot went off after the buzzer.

“I thought it was in and it just came out,” a dejected Collins said about his missed floater.

The UMass players celebrated as the Minutemen (3-6) claimed just their third victory of the season in nine games.

This game was extra special for Massachusetts, beating the defending national champions.

“It feels great,” said junior guard Ricky Harris, who led UMass with 18 points. “Kansas is a great team with a great tradition and not many teams come in here and beat them. With Coach (Derek) Kellogg coming here from Memphis (Kellogg was an assistant coach last year for the NCAA runner-up Tigers), we wanted to play well for him.

“We didn’t guarantee a victory, but we knew we would give a good effort for him.”

Memphis gave a great effort and delivered a knockout blow to Kansas in the first half with its 22-4 run and led by as many as 14 points (32-18 with 3:17 left in the half). The Minutemen held KU without a field goal for over seven minutes (9:38 to 2:24 mark).

While KU (7-2) made a valiant comeback, the Jayhawks never quite recovered.

After a three-pointer from Tyrel Reed and a conventional three-point play by Teahan, KU closed the first half on a 12-4 run to cut the Minutemen’s lead to 36-30 at halftime.

Energized by the partisan crowd and a four-guard lineup (the 6-5 Teahan was the four man for a long stretch), Kansas kept battling in the second half and held Harris (14 points in first half) scoreless until 5:45 remaining when he made two charities after a technical from KU coach Bill Self.

“I deserved it,” Self said. “He (official John Higgins) warned me in the first half and said that he had had enough. And I waved him off when I thought he made a bad call. I’ve done a lot more and not gotten one, but he told me he was going to call me if I did that. When you lose a game by one and the coach gets a ‘T’ with six minutes left and they make both free throws, the coach has to know better.”

But Self’s technical didn’t lose the game. KU blew this one in the first half when UMass dominated the Jayhawks. The Minutemen shot 55.6 percent in the first 20 minutes and scored 15 points off seven KU turnovers. Kansas, meanwhile, shot a dismal 28.6 percent from the field (33.9 percent for the game) and 22.2 percent beyond the arc.

“We lost it as a team from the very beginning when we didn’t come out to play,”  said sophomore center Cole Aldrich. “That’s the bottom line. ... Our focus was off a little bit. Sherron and I just have to take the carriage at its reins and get everybody going when things aren’t going right.”

Nothing much went right that first half.

“Anytime you give up 16 first-half points because of the scouting report means that you are probably not as ready as you should be,” Self said. “And that’s our [the coaches] job to get them ready, I’m not putting that on them. We had some young kids that have played better than that.”

KU had trouble containing the Minutemen’s dribble drive offense and also struggled with getting the ball to Aldrich with UMass’s sagging defense, especially in the second half. Aldrich (12 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks) had just three shot attempts after halftime. KU couldn’t free free him up with its poor shooting, and was also stymied by Gaffney’s six blocks.

Collins (game-high 19 points) went 6 of 21 from the field and rushed shots. Freshmen Tyshawn Taylor (1 of 7) and Marcus Morris (2 of 8) and sophomore Brady Morningstar (2 of 7) also had bad shooting days.

“If they are going to sag like that, then you have to hit some shots,” Self said. “I would say that our shot selection was as poor as it has been in quite some time.”

With its second loss of the season, KU now turns its attention to final exams and its game next Saturday against Temple in Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks aim to start a new home-winning streak. (The NCAA counted the UMass game as a home contest.)

Kansas certainly has much work to do after its third consecutive less than impressive performance.

For KU, this was just the second loss in its last 30 games in Kansas City. Both defeats (Kansas lost to Syracuse in the CBE Classic championship game on Nov. 25) came at the new Sprint Center.

“We deserved to get beat today,” Self said. “They controlled the game. A lot of times you don’t deserve to win and you do and a lot of times you don’t deserve to lose and you do. This was one of those games where I thought UMass controlled the game. I don’t think the building had anything to do with that.” 

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