No. 1 Kansas 81, Belmont 51

Coming out of a timeout late in the first half, Kansas coach

Bill Self called for a substitution. The player who was supposed to

enter the game didn’t hear him, leaving the Jayhawks with four

players on the court for about 15 seconds.

“It was great because it was probably our best offensive

possession of the game,” Self said with a smile. “I was really

proud of our team how they totally baffled their defense and were

able to make a great play.”

Self can joke now, but he knows his team needs to pull it

together with the Big 12 season just around the corner.

Cole Aldrich dominated inside with a double-double and six

blocked shots, and No. 1 Kansas overcame a lack of focus in the

first half to wear down Belmont 81-51 on Tuesday night.

Rusty off a long break, Kansas (12-0) shook off a lackadaisical

first half that included the 4-on-5 sequence, pulling it together

for a superb second half to extend the nation’s longest home

winning streak to 50 games.

Aldrich had his way inside with 11 points and 14 rebounds, and

Marcus Morris added 14 points to give the Jayhawks a rout that

wasn’t quite as stellar as the final score.

A game at No. 18 Temple is next on Saturday and the Big 12

starts on Jan. 13, and Kansas still has plenty of room for

improvement.

“I have very little sympathy for our team tonight,” Self said.

“I thought collectively we were poor. We certainly have to get

better.”

Belmont (7-5) was doomed by poor shooting and a shaky start to

both halves in its first trip to Allen Fieldhouse.

The Bruins didn’t hit their first shot until Drew Hanlen dropped

in a 3-pointer 5:13 in and fell behind 11-0 before scrapping back.

The Bruins couldn’t overcome a similar run to open the second half,

watching the lead gradually grow after Kansas picked up the

intensity at both ends.

Ian Clark and Drew Hanlen had 11 points each for Belmont, which

shot 31 percent and was outscored 40-18 inside in its final

nonconference game.

“I tried to be nice to our post players before the game when I

told them they were not going to be able to score against

Aldrich,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. “At the same time, I

didn’t want to take away the option. They figured out pretty early

that it wasn’t a good idea.”

Kansas had a week off since beating California and Michigan in a

span of four days.

Apparently, the Jayhawks weren’t ready to come back.

Oh, it started off fine. Kansas opened with an 11-0 run, forcing

Belmont to miss its first 10 field goal attempts. Aldrich led the

charge, blocking four shots, altering several other to start what

looked like another nonconference romp.

“He’s tough to shoot over,” Belmont forward Keaton Belcher

said.

Then came the Kansas breakdowns.

Taking advantage of the Jayhawks’ shoddy defense and rebounding,

Belmont followed with a 15-3 run, taking a 1-point lead when Kansas

had a soft turnover and left Jordan Campbell wide open for a

3-pointer in transition.

Already furious, Self called his second timeout in 3 minutes and

tried get his point across a little stronger.

Nope. The Jayhawks still had one more laughable gaffe in

them.

Coming out of a media timeout, Kansas started to run a play when

senior Sherron Collins began motioning wildly to the bench. Tyshawn

Taylor, who was on the court before the timeout, was still seated

after being told by Self that he was out. Problem was, Tyrel Reed

didn’t hear Self and remained on the bench, too, leaving the

Jayhawks with just four players.

Finally realizing what had happened, Taylor leaped up and

sprinted down the court, flowing in like a hockey player about

halfway through the shot clock as Self shook his head in

disgust.

The play resulted in two free throws for Aldrich – thanks to a

pass from Taylor – but clearly the focus wasn’t quite there.

“I didn’t even know we only had four players until Tyshawn came

running out onto the court,” Aldrich said.

Kansas pulled it together just enough to lead 36-26 at halftime

and was much better in the second half, opening with a 20-4 run and

shooting 19 of 29 for its seventh win of 30 or more points.

Another easy win, but one that showed the Jayhawks there’s still

plenty of work to be done.

“We are No. 1 and we have something to prove, I think,” Morris

said. “We still have to prove ourselves to every other team. If we

come out and play like we’re not supposed to, we will get beat by

any team.”