No. 9 Jayhawks breeze past Belmont, 89-60

  • Article by: DAVE SKRETTA
  • Associated Press
  • December 15, 2012 - 8:24 PM

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Ben McLemore and Travis Releford scored 17 points each, Jeff Withey had 14 points and blocked five shots, and ninth-ranked Kansas cruised to an 89-60 victory over Belmont on Saturday night.

Andrew White III added 15 points off the bench for the Jayhawks (8-1), who used suffocating defense and peerless transition offense early in the second half to put away the Bruins (6-3), a mid-major darling that has been to the NCAA tournament five of the past seven years.

Kansas won its 27th straight game at Allen Fieldhouse and 60th against a non-conference opponent. Jayhawks coach Bill Self improved to 150-7 at the venerable on-campus arena.

Trevor Noack scored a career-high 19 points for the Bruins, but he couldn't overcome their lousy outside shooting by himself. One of the nation's best 3-point shooting teams, Belmont was held to 21.1 percent (8 of 38) from beyond the arc.

Leading scorer Ian Clark, who had been averaging 19.4 points, was held to five on 2-for-9 shooting. The senior guard was 1 for 7 from 3-point range, where he had been shooting at a 58.7-percent clip, and committed five of his team's 17 turnovers.

The Jayhawks labored through much of the first half, though, unable to get into the kind of rhythm they used to bury Colorado their last time out.

They opened a 23-12 lead on a nice feed from Naadir Tharpe to Withey, but the Bruins — who have lost 16 straight against Top 25 opponents — whittled the lead to single digits.

Noack started the brief rally with a bucket, and Clark knocked down a jumper before hitting his only 3-pointer of the night. Reece Chamberlain added his only basket of the game to get the Bruins within 27-21 with 6 minutes left before halftime.

That's when McLemore started putting on a show.

After beginning his one-man act with an easy basket, he raced to the other end of the court and rejected the Bruins' Kerron Johnson. Back on the offensive end, McLemore set up White for a basket that extended the Jayhawks' lead to 36-23 late in the half.

The biggest highlight came as time expired.

Elijah Johnson had pushed the ball up court, cut to the right of the lane and dropped off a pass for McLemore running to his left. The freshman leaped up and dunked over Belmont's Blake Jenkins, getting fouled in the process and hanging on the rim an extra second for emphasis.

While the officials reviewed the play to make sure time was still on the clock, both teams left for the locker room. That left McLemore standing awkwardly on the court by himself to take the free throw — which, of course, he made — for a 44-28 lead at the break.

McLemore kicked off the second half with another 3-pointer, and Kevin Young's put-back finished off a 12-2 run that effectively put the game away with 18 minutes to go.

The Jayhawks were playing without reserve forward Justin Wesley, who will miss about three weeks after breaking the pinkie finger on his left hand during practice.

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