LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Dominant the first 16 minutes, Kansas went into a funk, turned what looked like another rout into a grind. Shoulders slumped, the life drained out of Allen Fieldhouse and the Jayhawks never really recovered.
A win? Sure, it still ended that way. It was just a lot tougher than it needed to be.
Marcus Morris had a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Sherron Collins scored 19 to help No. 1 Kansas pull out a grinding 75-64 win over Michigan on Saturday.
“I would be very disappointed if they left here ecstatic,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “You play to win and obviously that’s important, but to go along with that you play to get better. We wasted an opportunity in the second half to get better. I’m not overly thrilled. I’m glad we won. We did some things well, but we did some things really poorly as well.”
It started off great. Overcoming some poor shooting early, Kansas (10-0) jumped out to a 21-point lead with a big run midway through the first half. Then the Jayhawks started throwing passes up for grabs and Michigan clawed its way back, turning rowdy Allen Fieldhouse quiet.
Discouraged at the missed opportunity, Kansas managed to play well only in spurts after that and was never able to pull away.
The Jayhawks overcame 14 sometimes-ugly turnovers and numerous breakdowns on the defensive glass with good perimeter defense – Michigan was 5-for-28 from 3-point range – and decent shooting to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 48 games. Xavier Henry had 15 points and Collins was 7 of 10 from the floor after a 1-for-12 game against La Salle.
“We could have played a lot better,” said Marcus Morris, who hit all eight of his free throws. “Not taking anything from Michigan, I just think we could have played better and won by a lot more.”
Michigan (5-5) shot poorly and was again hurt by sporadic defense, playing well for stretches, breaking down on others in losing to Kansas for the first time.
Ranked 219th in field goal percentage against, the Wolverines caused a few problems with their 1-3-1 zone in the first half and neutralized Kansas center Cole Aldrich, holding him to five points and no field goals. Michigan had trouble against the rest of the Jayhawks, allowing them to shoot 52 percent, keeping it close behind 14 offensive rebounds and the shooting of DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris.
Sims had 19 points and Harris 16 for the Wolverines, 1-21 all-time against No. 1 teams.
“I thought we showed some heart,” Harris said. “We did a good job of coming back, but we gave them too big of a lead.”
After a week off for final exams, Kansas faced its first real home test of the season in Michigan.
Despite some early-season struggles, the Wolverines represented a much stiffer challenge than the likes of Oakland, Alcorn State and Radford, teams the Jayhawks beat by 30 or more in opening 6-0 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Michigan has a good history against Kansas, too. The Wolverines entered 5-0 all-time – the most wins without a loss in Kansas’ 111-year history – which Self made sure his players were well aware of.
With a matchup like this, Allen Fieldhouse was louder than it’s been all season, even with a pre-noon start.
Shaking off a sluggish start, the Jayhawks had the storied gym shaking about midway through the first half, giving a grinding game a flash of life with 15-2 run, capped by Collins’ fastbreak layup that made it 33-16.
Kansas hit eight straight shots to overcome a 2-for-11 start, getting an elbow-above-the-rim tomahawk dunk by Thomas Robinson, a couple of 3-pointers from Tyrel Reed, even a shake-and-bake scoop by Tyshawn Taylor as he was falling away from the basket that brought the crowd to its feet – even for the replay.
Then came the breakdowns.
Thanks to four no-chance-of-being-completed passes by Kansas and four straight baskets by Michigan, a 41-20 lead was down to 11 at halftime. Allen Fieldhouse went quiet and the Jayhawks played sporadically the rest of the way, allowing the Wolverines to stay within reach despite shooting 36 percent.
“That could have gotten real ugly very quickly,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “That could have been one of the typical Kansas 100-58 wins that they have.”