No. 15/14 Jayhawks Outlast Owls to Open Homestand, 77-54

Nov. 30, 2011

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior forward Thomas Robinson recorded his sixth-straight double-double with 19 points and 17 boards to push No. 15/14 Kansas past Florida Atlantic, 77-54, Wednesday night in the team’s first of five-consecutive home games.

Robinson locked down his sixth double-double in the Jayhawks’ first six games only minutes into the second half. He became the first Jayhawk to collect double-doubles in six-straight games to open the season. Robinson sits just one double-double away from tying the Jayhawks’ longest stretch of seven, held by Drew Gooden and Raef LaFrentz.

A packed Allen Fieldhouse crowd was more than ready to welcome the Jayhawks (4-2) home following a four-game road trip that concluded with a run to the title game of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational against No. 6 Duke. Showing their appreciation, the Jayhawks ran past an early first-half deficit to win their sixth-straight meeting at home.

Florida Atlantic (3-5), which ranked in the NCAA’s top 30 in the country a year ago in turnovers, proved the stat’s validity Wednesday night, committing just 10 turnovers in the game. The Owls forced 17 Jayhawk turnovers, which they turned into 16 points.

However, Kansas had a decided advantage on the glass with a 53-32 rebounding advantage and allowed just two second-chance points.

Aside from Robinson, who led all scorers with his 19 points, KU received double-digit efforts from senior guard Tyshawn Taylor (18) and juniors Travis Releford (11) and Jeff Withey (10). As a team, Kansas shot at 43.6 percent from the field while holding FAU to 32.3 percent.

FAU was led by sophomores Dennis Mavin and Pablo Bertone, who combined for 34 of the Owls’ 54 points.

On the defensive side of the ball, Kansas’ big men combined for 13 blocked shots, which was the most by a Jayhawk team since recording a school-record 15 blocks against Toledo in 2006.

FAU forward Kore White and Bertone scored all nine of the Owls’ opening points to hand the visiting team an early 9-3 lead, prompting a timeout from head coach Bill Self. Kansas responded out of the break with three-straight layups from Withey and Releford, eliminating the gap with the 6-0 run.

Senior Conner Teahan drilled his first three of the game in front of the FAU bench for the Jayhawks’ first lead of the night, 12-11. They would not trail again as Teahan hit his next pair of attempts from behind the arc and sophomore forward Justin Wesley laid in a bucket under the rim, to cap a 19-7 run. By the 6:30 mark, Kansas had turned a six-point deficit into a double-digit lead, 27-16.

After putting up nine points less than four minutes into the game, the Owls wouldn’t score nine more for another 10 minutes. Finally reaching full speed, the KU offense sprinted toward the 40-point mark by the end of the first half and hit it for the third time the team’s first six games.

Powering the first half offense, Taylor didn’t miss a shot until the final two minutes of the opening frame. The senior point guard was the team’s first to double-figures after knocking down a three-pointer down from the top of the key to double up the Owls, 36-18. He sunk a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to send the game to halftime with a 42-26 Jayhawk lead.

A bizarre change of possession saw junior guard Elijah Johnson give the ball up to an FAU defender only to meet Withey at the basket for his second block of the night. Again, Johnson took off down the court in transition, this time converting it to an assist on a Robinson dunk to kickoff the second half.

The Owls capitalized on a pair of Jayhawk turnovers, converting both of them into fast break points to cut into KU’s lead, 53-38. Once again, a called timeout from the Kansas bench was all the spark needed as the Jayhawks quickly pushed their lead back to 20, highlighted by another crowd-roaring Robinson dunk.

No. 15/14 Kansas continues its five-game homestand on Saturday, Dec. 3, when it plays host to BIG EAST foe, South Florida. Tip from Allen Fieldhouse is set for 4:15 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.