Jayhawks pull away for semifinal win over BYU

Kansas’ Devon Dotson drives to the basket against BYU’s Connor Harding in the first half of the Jayhawks’ 78-63 semifinal win Tuesday in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational at Lahaina Civic Center. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

LAHAINA — The outcome had long been decided, but the loudest cheer of the nightcap Tuesday at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational came when Kansas’ Christian Braun slammed home an alley-oop pass from Devon Dotson.

The No. 4-ranked Jayhawks rolled past Brigham Young 71-56 in the semifinals to set up a championship meeting today against Dayton at noon at the Lahaina Civic Center.

The athletic play by the freshman guard from Overland Park, Kansas, came with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the victory — it started on a pretty pass from Dotson, gave the Jayhawks a 68-48 lead and were Braun’s only points of the night.

“It was after the game was probably decided, but any time you have guys that can make athletic plays –obviously like everybody we stress to make — and we haven’t been a very good lob-throwing team,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We were a little bit better tonight. I think it was Dot that gave him the pass. Christian is a good athlete.”

Braun came into the contest averaging 3.6 points per game, but the hometown boy lit up the large KU contingent.

BYU’s Alex Barcello drives against Kansas’ Devon Dotson on Tuesday.

“Hopefully that does something for his confidence to know that he can play in traffic like that,” Self said.

Self watched his team methodically pull away from the Cougars with a couple of big advantages — Kansas outscored BYU 42-18 in the paint and scored 17 points off of BYU’s 20 turnovers. The Cougars scored just four points off of Kansas’ 12 turnovers.

“Well, that was a hard team to guard. Early in the game they had us on our heels the first 10 minutes,” Self said. “I told our guys after about the 10-minute mark, I don’t know if I can remember us locking in and being any better defensively until probably about the eight-minute mark of the second half.

“That was good. We didn’t make shots, we weren’t great offensively, but we still were able to kind of stretch the lead. So, it was a hard game and it sets up a harder game tomorrow. From a coaching standpoint, that was fun for me to watch from a defensive standpoint.”

Starting front-line players Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack combined to shoot 12-for-15 from the floor. McCormack had 16 points and five rebounds, while Azubuike had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Point guard Dotson added 13 points and eight assists.

Kansas’ David McCormack shoots over BYU’s Kolby Lee.

McCormack is 6-foot-10 and 265 pounds, while Azubuike is 7-0, 280.

“Just using our size,” McCormack said of the key to the Jayhawks’ advantage in the paint. “As you can see, we have two bigs right here, and just playing to our advantage and playing the height and athleticism. So that’s what we did.”

BYU (4-3) was led by TJ Haws, who had 16 points, while Kolby Lee had 13. The Cougars will play Virginia Tech for third place today at 6:30 p.m.

“Proud of our guys for competing and fighting,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “We were excited about the opportunity to go compete against Kansas tonight. They’re a good team, they’re really physical, they’re well-coached, they played well. We just couldn’t answer the bell in the second half. But we’re excited to get a chance to play again tomorrow in a great game.”

Anthony Grant, the Dayton coach, spent nearly a month over the summer as part of the USA Basketball team coached by Self.

“I really like his team and I know he does, too,” Self said. “It should be a fun game. … Anthony is one of the classiest guys in our business, unbelievable human being. And he’s got a terrific team. And it will be a fun, competitive big-boy game tomorrow from a physicality standpoint.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

KANSAS (5-1)

McCormack 7-9 2-2 16, Azubuike 5-6 1-5 11, Agbaji 6-9 0-0 14, Dotson 5-16 3-3 13, Garrett 3-5 0-0 7, De Sousa 0-2 0-0 0, Teahan 0-0 0-0 0, Elliot 0-0 0-0 0, Jankovich 0-0 0-0 0, Moss 2-8 0-1 5, Braun 1-3 0-0 2, Enaruna 0-3 3-4 3. Totals 29-61 9-15 71.

BYU (4-3)

Nixon 2-8 0-0 5, Lee 6-8 0-0 13, Barcello 2-5 0-0 5, Haws 6-14 1-1 16, Toolson 3-9 0-0 7, Knell 0-1 0-0 0, Maughan 0-0 0-0 0, Nield 0-0 0-0 0, Troy 1-1 0-0 3, Pearson 0-0 0-0 0, Harding 2-4 0-0 5, Seljaas 0-4 2-3 2. Totals 22-54 3-4 56.

Halftime–Kansas 29-27. 3-Point Goals–Kansas 4-18 (Agbaji 2-4, Garrett 1-3, Moss 1-5, Enaruna 0-1, Braun 0-2, Dotson 0-3), BYU 9-33 (Haws 3-9, Troy 1-1, Harding 1-2, Lee 1-2, Barcello 1-4, Nixon 1-5, Toolson 1-5, Knell 0-1, Seljaas 0-4). Fouled Out–None. Rebounds–Kansas 34 (Azubuike 10), BYU 31 (Harding, Toolson 7). Assists–Kansas 18 (Dotson 8), BYU 14 (Haws 5). Total Fouls–Kansas 10, BYU 17. A–2,400 (2,400).


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