No. 1 Kansas 73, UCLA 61
A couple of college basketball’s storied programs met in a game
that two years ago would have ensured a sold-out arena and plenty
of big buzz.
Instead, it was a tale of the nation’s top-ranked team beating
up on a downtrodden program cleaned out by the lure of the NBA
Markief Morris scored a career-high 19 points and No. 1 Kansas
pulled away in the second half to defeat UCLA 73-61 on Sunday,
sending the Bruins to their fourth consecutive loss.
“They’ve had a lot of defections to the NBA and it’s hard to
keep reloading,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after his first visit
to Pauley Pavilion. “We’re going to look back on this game in
February and be very proud because they’re going to get better and
Xavier Henry added 16 points and Sherron Collins had 14 for the
Jayhawks (7-0), who led the entire game despite shooting a
season-worst 44 percent from the field but allowed UCLA to get
within four points early in the second half.
“We knew they were going to give us a good game in their
house,” Henry said. “Usually they’re a really good team but this
year is a rebuilding year. They’ll get better.”
Michael Roll scored 16 points and Nikola Dragovic added 14 for
the Bruins (2-5), who haven’t lost four in a row since 2003-04,
coach Ben Howland’s first season in Westwood.
The Bruins are off to their worst start since 2002-03, Steve
Lavin’s last season as coach that also began with a 2-5 record.
“The whole team showed a lot of fight,” Howland said. “If we
keep doing that, we’ll end up winning more of these games.”
The defeat capped a rocky week for the struggling Bruins, who
lost forward Drew Gordon when he quit the team. The sophomore
averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds.
“We played really hard. We’re fighting as a unit now,” Roll
said. “We had it down to four and they made a quick push to get it
back up. Their bigs are very talented and they spread us out and
beat us up down low.”
Kansas notched its 1,977th victory, third-best in NCAA Division
I history. The Bruins’ 1,648 wins are ninth-best.
The last time the schools met was in the 2007 NCAA tournament’s
West Region, when UCLA won by 13 points and went on to the second
of three consecutive Final Four appearances.
But that run of success has taken its toll this season on the
Bruins, who lost several key players early to the NBA draft leaving
them with a slew of inexperienced underclassmen. Tyler Honeycutt
made his college debut after missing UCLA’s first six games with a
stress reaction in his right tibia. He finished with three points
and six rebounds.
Kansas led by 13 points in the first half, when the Bruins
committed 11 turnovers and shot 33 percent, missing several open
Collins’ jumper gave Kansas its largest lead of the half, 29-16.
From there, the Bruins ended the half on a 12-6 run to close to
35-28. Dragovic and Roll had five points each in the spurt.
UCLA outscored Kansas 6-3 to start the second half and get to
38-34. Reeves Nelson, starting in place of Gordon, dunked to get
the Bruins within seven with 14:40 remaining. He was poked in the
right eye and had to leave the game for a few minutes before
returning wearing protective goggles.
“He’ll end up in the ER tonight as his eye was swollen shut,”
Howland said. “He’s had a tough week, but he showed a lot of
character to get back in the game.”
The Bruins closed within seven once more on a 3-pointer by
Dragovic at 12:03 before Kansas soon restored its double-digit
lead. Henry’s fourth 3-pointer of the game extended the Jayhawks’
lead to 69-54 in the final minutes.
Kansas’ Marcus Morris, who averages 11, finished with four
points after being held scoreless in the first half. Cole Aldrich
had 12 rebounds as Kansas controlled the boards, 43-36.
The game was part of the Big 12-Pac-10 Hardwood Series.