No. 2 Kansas 76, Santa Clara 64
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Santa Clara was hoping to start the season the same way it did last year, with an upset of one of the country’s top teams. Kansas buried that notion with a strong second half.
Jerod Haase led the way, scoring 16 of his 19 points in the second half as No. 2 Kansas pulled away for a 76-64 win Friday night in the opener for both teams.
``I feel very good about a win against a team I have a great deal of respect for,″ Kansas coach Roy Williams said. ``In the first half, they outplayed, outhustled, outrebounded and outcoached us.
``I didn’t think we played hard or intelligently in the first half. In the first eight minutes of the second half, I was really pleased. Our rebounding helped get our fast break going and got us some second shots inside.″
Santa Clara began last season by upsetting fourth-ranked UCLA, but couldn’t start this year in the same fashion, wearing down against a Kansas team that returned all five starters from last year’s Big Eight Conference championship squad. The Jayhawks played without star guard Jacque Vaughn, sidelined by a right wrist injury.
``I think we were a little disappointed in ourselves after the first half,″ Haase said. ``They’re a well-coached, scrappy team that plays hard and we didn’t match their intensity. We have to be that way, too. We have to learn from this.″
Raef LaFrentz added 17 and Paul Pierce 16 points for the Jayhawks, who remained unbeaten in four meetings with Santa Clara. Kansas finished the Broncos’ season last spring by defeating them in a second-round NCAA game.
Marlon Garnett had 20 points to lead Santa Clara, while Todd Wuschnig added 11.
Brian Jones, just the third true freshman to start a season-opening game at Santa Clara since 1976-77, had eight points in his debut. Jones replaced former Santa Clara star Steve Nash, now with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns
Up by only four at halftime, Kansas took control with a 13-0 burst that put it up 51-34 with 14:36 remaining, the biggest lead to that point.
``At the beginning of the second half, our guys dropped their heads a little bit,″ Garnett said. ``And one thing about Kansas, once they get their confidence, that’s 75 percent of the battle for them.″
Ryan Robertson, starting in place of Vaughn, hit a 3-pointer at the end of the run.
But the decisive surge was fueled by Haase, playing before about 30 relatives and friends who made the four-hour drive from his native South Lake Tahoe to see the game at the San Jose Arena.
``Having them here meant a lot. Their support through the years has been unparalleled,″ Haase said. ``To be able to play well just added to the experience.″
Haase had two three-point plays and a fast-break layup off a steal during the burst before Garnett managed to break it up with a 3-pointer. But Santa Clara could get no closer than nine points.
Kansas led by as many as 10 midway through the first half, but Santa Clara fought back within 34-30 at the break.
Pierce’s 12-foot baseline jumper gave Kansas a 21-11 advantage, but Santa Clara answered with a 14-3 run to go in front 25-24. Wuschnig, providing a lift off the bench, had five straight points on a putback and a 3-pointer at the end of the burst.
Kansas outscored Santa Clara 10-5 in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the opening period, with Robertson hitting the Jayhawks’ fourth 3-pointer to help them regain the lead.