No. 5 Kansas has no trouble beating UCLA 92-73 at Maui
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Kansas gave itself a nice, easy path to the championship game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
The fifth-ranked Jayhawks, who won their first-round game by a tournament-record 51 points, cruised past UCLA 92-73 on Tuesday night in the semifinals and will face No. 19 Vanderbilt in the title game Wednesday.
The Commodores weren’t exactly tested in their two games, with a 37-point opening win and an 86-64 victory over Wake Forest in the semifinals.
Maybe a close game for the teams who have looked by far the best in the eight-team field?
“First of all, they’re a lot bigger than we are,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “So we’re going to have to play bigger than our standing height. We’ll have to utilize our quickness inside. It’s a hard matchup for us.
“Vanderbilt would be extremely difficult to play and defeat no matter what. But (especially) with no day to prepare for a team that runs 100 different sets, and they’re experienced and they share it.”
It will be the second Maui championship for either school. Vanderbilt won here in 1986, and Kansas won in 1996.
Perry Ellis scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting for the Jayhawks (3-1). Frank Mason III had 16 points, Wayne Selden Jr. 15 and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk 13.
The Jayhawks were up 59-33 at halftime and by at least 20 points for all but the closing seconds.
“Just defense,” Ellis said of the first-half blowout. “That was the key, getting stops and we were getting those stops and we were running, running great, running the floor great, and got some easy buckets.”
Isaac Hamilton had 19 points, Aaron Holiday 16 and Tony Parker 15 for UCLA (2-2), which never put together two solid possessions in the opening 20 minutes.
There wasn’t much the Jayhawks did wrong in breaking the game open early.
In the first half they shot 57.6 percent (19 of 33) from the field, 53.3 percent (8 of 15) from 3-point range and 86.7 percent (13 of 15) from the free throw line. The Jayhawks committed only three turnovers and outrebounded the Bruins 23-15.
That’s how you build a 26-point lead after 20 minutes.
It almost looked like Kansas’ 123-72 opening-round win over Division II Chaminade. But the Bruins are a team from the Pac-12 and even they couldn’t do anything to stem the tide.
“Really tough first half. We haven’t started either opening half well at all since we’ve been here. Didn’t think we started the game well against UNLV and we didn’t start the game well tonight,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “Give my guys credit at halftime. When you get knocked down, you either lay there and wait until somebody picks you up or you show some character and some toughness and some pride and do better. I thought in the second half we calmed down offensively, and then we were able to put together some decent defensive stops.
“But that’s a very, very good basketball team. Definitely a top 5 team in the country. If we play poorly in a 20-minute stretch against that, it’s going to be hard on us, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Kansas finished 32 of 59 (54.2 percent) from the field and 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) on 3s.
“It was definitely a key to the game plan,” Kansas’ Devonte Graham said of the first-half defense. “Make things tough for them, don’t let them be comfortable. I just tried to get through all the ball screens, staggers, double screens and baseline runners and just make them make tough plays, shoot tough shots.”
Kansas: Jayhawks fans again were on hand in full force, making the Lahaina Civic Center feel a little like Allen Fieldhouse West. ... Raef LaFrentz was the MVP when Kansas won the title in 1996. ... Kansas still trails UCLA 10-8 in the all-time series. ... Seven Jayhawks scored in double figures against Chaminade.
UCLA: The Bruins beat UNLV 75-73 in the opening round. ... The Bruins never led in the game and it was tied for a total of 36 seconds. ... UCLA shot 34.4 percent from the field (11 of 32) in the first half and went just 2 for 10 on 3s.
Kansas: No. 19 Vanderbilt in the championship game of the Maui Invitational on Wednesday.
UCLA: Wake Forest in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational on Wednesday.