A crowd of 13,484 saw Kansas improve its record to 33-2 and 16th seed Lehigh end its season 23-11.
Playing like they had nothing to lose, the Mountain Hawks came out
ready to play as they built an early 12-4 lead. Kansas missed 10 of its
first 12 shots and turned the ball over four times to give the Lehigh
fans plenty to cheer about in the early going.
At the 14 minute mark, Kansas buckled down on defense behind the play
of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Cole Aldrich. Aldrich
blocked a shot and Marcus Morris hit a three on the other end. On
Lehigh's next possession, Tyshawn Taylor made a steal and raced for an
easy bucket. Aldrich then blocked another shot and was fed by Taylor in
the post for a three-point play and the game was tied at 12.
Kansas ultimately went on a 21-2 run to gain its biggest lead of the
half (25-14) with 6:23 left on the first half clock. Not beaten yet,
the Mountain Hawks started to claw back with their own 9-0 run.
With 2:50 left in the half, the Lehigh faithful finally got what they
were waiting for when CJ McCollum - the Patriot League Player of the
Year - hit his first bucket after starting 0-for-8 from the
field. McCollum's long jumper cut the lead to one with KU
Clearly upset that KU had let its lead dwindle, Sherron Collins took
over, scoring seven of KU's last nine points of the half and the
Jayhawks led 35-29 at the break.
After starting 2-of-12 from the field, Kansas finished 14-of-32 for
43.8 percent in the first half while holding Lehigh to 36.4 percent
(12-of-33). KU led on the boards 23-20 and owned a 20-12 advantage in
the paint. Marcus Morris for Kansas and Zahir Carrington each had 12
points to lead the scoring.
Whatever was troubling Kansas in the first half, head coach Bill Self
was able to resolve in the locker room as the Jayhawks came out and
played much better in the second half.
Kansas started the half with a quick bucket from Aldrich on a feed from
Collins. Looking to pick up the tempo, Kansas got two more baskets from
Xavier Henry. McCollum started to fill it up for the Mountain Hawks,
but Kansas always had an answer. With 11:24 left, the lead was back to
double-digits with KU taking its biggest lead of 56-44.
From there, Lehigh was never able to seriously threaten despite a great
26-point effort from McCollum.
Kansas ended the game shooting 55.1 percent from the field including
64.9 percent in the second half alone. Lehigh shot 44.3 percent. KU
held the edge on the glass 41-33 and benefitted from 17 assists
including six from Collins, who also had 18 points and four rebounds on
Aldrich and Henry each had 11 points for Kansas. Carrington finished
with 17 points and six boards for Lehigh.
Kansas advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round for the 25th time
in the last 27 years. The Jayhawks will face ninth-seeded Northern Iowa
on CBS at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday, March 24.
KU Drops Lehigh, 90-74
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