Strong second half leads KU past Stanford


December 30, 2019 - 9:47 AM

Devon Dotson of the Kansas Jayhawks battles for a loose ball during a game on Dec. 14. JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES/TNS

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — When Udoka Azubuike had a rare quiet day on the offensive end, he kept after it on the boards, and Kansas turned to its perimeter game to finally pull away.

Isaiah Moss made three straight 3-pointers during a decisive second-half stretch and finished with 17 points off the bench, and No. 5 Kansas overcame an inconsistent performance on both ends to beat Stanford 72-56 Sunday.

“Both teams were so inept offensively that I’m sure it was a hard game for a lot of people to watch the first half, but we did defend and rebound,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Azubuike grabbed 13 rebounds as the Jayhawks (10-2) held a big advantage on the boards, but he took just two shots to score two points and committed five turnovers while playing with foul trouble. Kansas’ second-leading scorer at 14.0 points per game missed all five of his free-throw attempts in a sub-par day with several NBA scouts in the stands.

Kansas bounced back from just its second defeat — the team’s two losses are by a combined three points — 56-55 at Villanova on Dec. 21 in spite of 21 turnovers.

It was certainly a strange outing for Azubuike considering the senior center, 7-feet and 270 pounds, had seven dunks against Stanford when the Jayhawks last played the series in Northern California two years ago, a 75-54 victory. He had his team’s first 10 points in that matchup and 24 in all. On Sunday, he didn’t take his first shot until 8:45 remaining in the first half despite his significant size advantage in the paint.

Kansas instead kept letting it fly from long range early, beginning 1 of 5 on 3-pointers before making 6 of 8 from deep over the final 20 minutes.

“Having our bench guys combine to make seven 3s, that’s something that we welcome,” Self said.

Ochai Agbaji and Devon Dotson added 14 points each as Kansas won its fourth straight meeting with Stanford. That leaves Stanford coach Jerod Haase winless against his former school as the programs conclude a four-year agreement. Haase said the series is over for the time being.

“We’re trying to build up the schedule and put ourselves in the best position possible,” Haase said. “It’s good to get national exposure and play a national brand like Kansas, but I also feel like we’re building a foundation here that we will be a national brand for Stanford basketball moving forward as well.”

Oscar da Silva scored 19 points for Stanford (11-2) in front of a lively, towel-waving crowd at Maples Pavilion, where the large contingent of Jayhawks fans cheered loudly when Kansas took the floor and continued all afternoon.

The cold-shooting Cardinal had lost just once previously and by a single point to Butler on Nov. 26. They were off to their best start since also starting 11-1 in 2008 but haven’t been 12-1 since winning 26 consecutive games to begin the 2003-04 season.

Kansas jumped to a 7-0 lead before Stanford’s timeout at the 15:29 mark of the first half and missed its initial 14 shots — missing seven 3s — and went scoreless over the first 13 possessions with four turnovers. Oscar da Silva got the Cardinal on the board at last with a pair of free throws at the 12:11 mark.

“I felt like they helped us out in the first half a little bit by not knocking down shots,” Jayhawks guard Marcus Garrett said.

Stanford finally made its first field goal at 8:12 when Isaac White scored on a follow-up jumper moments after Kansas had an 0-for-5 possession.