No. 15 Jayhawks cruise past Florida Atlantic 77-54
By DAVE SKRETTA
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas coach Bill Self masked his frustration, his downright disdain, for a poor performance against Florida Atlantic with the kind of sarcastic wit that leaves folks in stitches.
Asked about the 15th-ranked Jayhawks' 77-54 victory Wednesday night, Self said that he thought it looked like his team had a "Maui hangover" from its trip to the tournament in Hawaii, in which they played well in losing to Duke in the championship game.
Asked whether the "Maui hangover" contributed to 17 turnovers against the Owls, Self said he thought the Jayhawks were just as good at turning it over inland as they were in Hawaii.
Asked about the play of Elijah Johnson, who had seven turnovers without scoring against Florida Atlantic, and Self said it had nothing to do with the "Maui hangover."
"He's still in Hawaii," Self said. "He didn't get hung over, he got left behind."
It was a good thing Thomas Robinson caught the flight back to Kansas.
The bruising big man had 19 points and 17 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double, the longest streak to open a season in school history, helping Kansas overcome its sloppy execution against the reigning Sun Belt regular-season champions.
"We're not a good team yet, to the point where we're a good team for 40 minutes," said Robinson, the reigning Big 12 player of the week. "That'll get better, just keep our focus and not catching ADD halfway through the game."
Since then, the Jayhawks lost to top-ranked Kentucky at Madison Square Garden, beat Georgetown and UCLA in the Maui Invitational, and then lost to the third-ranked Blue Devils in the championship game.
"We had plenty of time off since Maui," Withey said. "We definitely came out slow in the first half, and even in the second half. We definitely need to change that."
Pablo Bertone had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Owls (4-4), despite giving up 9 inches to the 7-foot Withey. Dennis Marvin also had 17 points, most of them in the second half.
"I would have loved to have had a closer game," Florida Atlantic coach Mike Jarvis said. "We had a couple of chances to get it into single digits and that would have been a lot more fun."
Florida Atlantic started off on a 9-3 run, forcing Self to call a timeout less than 4 minutes into the game. It seemed to serve as a wake-up call, and Withey scored the first field goal when play resumed to start an 11-2 run that Taylor capped with a basket with 11:29 left in the half.
Raymond Taylor hit a deep 3 for the Owls, but it hardly slowed the Jayhawks' momentum. Connor Teahan hit the first of his three first-half 3-pointers, Justin Wesley scored his first basket and Teahan knocked down another 3 as the Jayhawks extended the lead to 29-16 with 6:08 left.
Tyshawn Taylor added a circus-like scoop layup after Florida Atlantic snapped a 4-minute scoring drought, and his deep 3-pointer from the top of the key pushed the lead to 16, the Jayhawks' biggest of the first half. Taylor hit two foul shots with 1.2 seconds left for a 42-26 advantage.
"We missed too many layups and free throws and didn't rebound," Jarvis said simply.
The Jayhawks briefly extended the lead to 19 when Robinson converted a three-point play early in the second half, but their sloppiness nearly allowed Florida Atlantic back in the game.
On consecutive trips, Johnson threw the ball away, Kevin Young was stripped under the basket and Tyshawn Taylor was stripped by Mavin, who had 12 points in the second half.
The Owls got the lead down to 13 on a 3-pointer by Raymond Taylor with 7:14 left, but Withey scored at the other end and added another basket moments later to extend the lead, and Kansas cruised over the final 5 minutes to its 53rd nonconference home win in its last 54 games.
"I knew they'd be flat," Self said. "You look at those teams coming back from Hawaii, nobody has looked very good. UCLA beat Pepperdine, otherwise everyone got their clock cleaned pretty good.
"We just didn't have it," Self said. "That's OK, to be in a grind-it-out mode. That's OK to be in that mode. But you have to enjoy that. If we don't have as much energy or whatever, you have to enjoy playing the best way to give us a chance. And I thought we took a step backwards tonight."
Updated December 1, 2011