"I knew I had a lot of blocks at halftime, and I just came at this game like I do every game: try to hold down the paint."
Marcus Morris scored 14 point, Sherron Collins had nine and the Henry brothers, Xavier and CJ, had eight apiece. CJ's came in just eight minutes of play and went with four steals and a rebound.
Tyshawn Taylor continued to play terrific ball off the Kansas bench with seven points on 2-of-4 shooting to go with five assists and just one turnover. In the five games since Taylor was benched, he's dished 29 assists against just three turnovers.
The Bruins battled back from the quick 11-0 deficit and went on their own 15-3 over a five-minute span to take a 15-14 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the first half. That was the last lead Belmont would hold.
KU went on an mini-run over the next 2 ½ minutes to regain the lead, 22-15. They were sparked by Aldrich, who scored three points, blocked a shot, grabbed a rebound and even dropped a dime during the run.
KU wrapped up the half by outscoring Belmont, 7-0, over the last 4:20 to grow their lead to 10 at halftime, 36-23.
Belmont stuck around primarily on the strength of rebounding. The smaller, less-athletic Bruins out-rebounded KU, 20-19, in the first half and went toe-to-toe with them, 20 apiece, in the second.
Needless to say, rebounding, hustle and energy were on the coach's mind. In a holiday tradition as dear and as treasured as putting the star on top of the tree and spinning the dreidel, KU coach Bill Self ripped his team's toughness.
"We don't make toughness plays; let's call it," he said, bluntly. "I'm okay with winning by 10 if we show some toughness, but on 50-50 balls, we get exactly 50 of 'em."
Self said that unless a team grabs 70 percent of those 50-50 balls, "they're not goin' very far."
"There was a lot of soft play tonight," he added.
Aldrich, who grabbed 14 of Kansas' 33 rebounds, backed his coach up.
"Look at the stats. We gotta rebound a lot better. They had twice as many offensive rebounds as we had and out-rebounded us by one. That can't happen. We've got to play with more of a chip on our shoulder," the junior center said.
Belmont was still in the game to start the second period but spent the first 5 ½ minutes running a flawlessly executed no-points offense. By the time they got off the second-half schneid, Kansas had broken the game open, 47-28, with no plans of looking back. The Jayhawks scored five straight to make the score 52-28, and Belmont never got closer than 21 the rest of the evening.
Self was asked if his team's performance could be attributed to post-holiday blahs. The coach was quick to shoot down that theory.
"Everything bad that happens, you can come up with a reason, but the fact is, everyone else is going through the same stuff," he said.
"There's no post-Christmas blahs. There's no excuse. This was a very lackluster performance tonight."
Next up: Kansas, a team that Self says, "plays well when things are pretty," will take on a physical, tough Temple Owls squad that will do all they can to make the game anything but pretty. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 at the Liacouras Center in Philly. It'll be on ESPN2.
Other game notes:
- KU is 12-0 for the third time under Bill Self (14-0 in 2004-05; 20-0 in 2007-08).
- Kansas has never lost to Belmont. Sure, they're 1-0, but still...
- The Jayhawks extended the nation's longest homecourt winning streak to 50.
- Bill Self is 181-40 as head coach at KU. He is 104-7 in Allen Field House.
- Kansas is 642-106 in Allen Field House.
- The Jayhawks are 1,982-793 all-time.
- Belmont shot just 30.8 percent, becoming the 86th straight Kansas opponent to shoot less than 50 percent. KU has held 13 of their last 14 opponents to under 40 percent.
- On the other hand, the win over Belmont was the fifth straight contest in which Kansas shot better than 50 percent. Kansas shot 56.1 percent for the game and 65.0 percent in the second half.
- In 12 games, the Jayhawks have won by 30 or more seven times this season.
- Freshman tall guy Jeff Withey saw his first action of the season, scoring two points on a dunk late in the game. He also collected a pair of rebounds. "It was awesome," he said of his maiden Allen Field House voyage. "I couldn't feel my legs."
- Aldrich has 19 blocks in KU's last four games. His six blocks against Belmont is a season-high.
- Aldrich's 14 boards moved him to 18th on KU's all-time rebounding list with 627. He passed Norm Cook Tuesday night.
- Aldrich's 11 points and 14 rebounds gave him his fifth double-double of the season and the 27th of his career.
- Senior guard Sherron Collins scored just nine points, but those were enough to push him past Tony Guy and into a tie with Bud Stallworth at 19th on the KU career scoring list with 1,495 points.
- I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that Belmont's 23 turnovers was a season-high for a KU opponent this season. The bad news is, their 39 rebounds are also a season-high for a KU opponent.