No. 17/18 Kansas Races Past Howard, 89-34

Dec. 29, 2011

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Bench Plays Important Role in Big Victory
LAWERENCE, Kan. – Every available Jayhawk checked in to help No. 17/18 Kansas hold the Howard Bison, 89-34, to the second-lowest point total in the Bill Self era during the team’s return to Allen Fieldhouse Thursday night.

For the second-consecutive game, the Kansas (9-3) defense held its opponent to 13 first-half points on less than 25 percent shooting, after doing so at USC on Dec. 22. Back-to-back meetings with Northern Arizona and Washburn in 2007 marked the last time KU pulled off the feat in consecutive contests. The Jayhawks would go on to hold Howard (4-10) to 34 points on 22 percent shooting, both season lows for a Kansas opponent, and the second-lowest scoring output for a Kansas opponent in Self’s tenure (31, Alcorn State).

Using a combined team effort, 11 Jayhawks scored in Thursday night’s win, Forty-five games have passed since the last time Kansas saw that many players score. Twelve Jayhawks notched points in a 98-41 win against Ohio on Nov. 26, 2010.

On Thursday, senior guards Tyshawn Taylor and Conner Teahan led the charge as each posted 13 points and three, three-pointers. Junior center Jeff Withey put up 10 points to add to his six blocks, the second-highest total of his career and the fourth-most that any Kansas player has recorded in a single game.

Five seconds in, Taylor found Withey under the basket with a textbook alley-oop pass for the dunk. Withey completed the three point play with a free throw, and the scoring rally was underway. A three-pointer from junior guard Travis Releford shoved the Jayhawks out to a 10-2 advantage by the first media timeout.

While Kansas held the Bison scoreless for more than six minutes following the visitors’ first bucket of the game, the Jayhawks sunk six of their first 10 shots in the same span. After stepping to the line for a pair of free throws following a technical foul charged to Howard’s bench, Teahan drilled his first three-pointer of the night as KU continued to build its commanding first-half lead, 23-6.

An 11-1 run, sparked by another well-executed Taylor assist, this time to junior guard Elijah Johnson, helped spread the gap to 25 points as the half dipped under the five-minute mark. By the final media break of the half, all nine Jayhawks who had checked into the game had scored. The balanced offensive effort sent the game to halftime in favor of the Jayhawks, 42-13.

Back-to-back threes from Taylor and Johnson picked the Jayhawk offense up where it left off to begin the second half. While Kansas built, and later surpassed, its largest lead since the season opener against Towson , no Jayhawk hit double-digits until Taylor knocked down his second three of the game with less than 15 minutes to play.

Teahan would soon join him, as he connected on consecutive buckets from beyond the arc, giving the senior guard seven threes in his last two games.

As Kansas ‘ lead climbed past the 50-point mark, head coach Bill Self used the opportunity to work in several members of his bench – including freshman guard Merv Lindsay – who’s first basket as a Jayhawk brought on an uproar from the sellout Allen Fieldhouse crowd. Lindsay finished the evening with a career-best nine points.

Meanwhile, a pair of made free throws by junior forward Justin Wesley and another layup from Lindsay added to the lopsided lead, 85-32 with less than two minutes on the clock. Freshman guard Niko Roberts’ first of two steals transitioned to a fastbreak layup for senior guard Jordan Juenemann, bringing the game to its final score, 89-34.

No. 17/18 Kansas will remain at home to close out the 2011 calendar year hosting North Dakota on Saturday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m., on ESPNU. The Big 12 season starts for Kansas on Jan. 4 when the Jayhawks host Kansas State .