LAWRENCE (AP) — Coming out of a timeout late in the first half, Kansas coach Bill Self called for a substitution. The player who was supposed to enter the game didn’t hear him, leaving the Jayhawks with four players on the court for about 15 seconds.
“It was great because it was probably our best offensive possession of the game,” Self said with a smile. “I was really proud of our team how they totally baffled their defense and were able to make a great play.”
Self can joke now, but he knows his team needs to pull it together with the Big 12 season just around the corner.
Cole Aldrich dominated inside with a double-double and six blocked shots, and No. 1 Kansas overcame a lack of focus in the first half to wear down Belmont 81-51 on Tuesday night.
Rusty off a long break, Kansas (12-0) shook off a lackadaisical first half that included the 4-on-5 sequence, pulling it together for a superb second half to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 50 games.
Aldrich had his way inside with 11 points and 14 rebounds, and Marcus Morris added 14 points to give the Jayhawks a rout that wasn’t quite as stellar as the final score.
A game at No. 18 Temple is next on Saturday and the Big 12 starts on Jan. 13. Kansas still has plenty of room for improvement.
“I have very little sympathy for our team tonight,” Self said. “I thought collectively we were poor. We certainly have to get better.”
Belmont (7-5) was doomed by poor shooting and a shaky start to both halves in its first trip to Allen Fieldhouse.
The Bruins didn’t hit their first shot until Drew Hanlen dropped in a 3-pointer 5:13 in and fell behind 11-0 before scrapping back. The Bruins couldn’t overcome a similar run to open the second half, watching the lead gradually grow after Kansas picked up the intensity at both ends.
Ian Clark and Drew Hanlen had 11 points each for Belmont, which shot 31 percent and was outscored 40-18 inside in its final nonconference game.
“I tried to be nice to our post players before the game when I told them they were not going to be able to score against Aldrich,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said. “At the same time, I didn’t want to take away the option. They figured out pretty early that it wasn’t a good idea.”
Kansas had a week off since beating California and Michigan in a span of four days.
Apparently, the Jayhawks weren’t ready to come back.
Oh, it started off fine. Kansas opened with an 11-0 run, forcing Belmont to miss its first 10 field goal attempts. Aldrich led the charge, blocking four shots, altering several other to start what looked like another nonconference romp.
“He’s tough to shoot over,” Belmont forward Keaton Belcher said.
Then came the Kansas breakdowns.
Taking advantage of the Jayhawks’ shoddy defense and rebounding, Belmont followed with a 15-3 run, taking a 1-point lead when Kansas had a soft turnover and left Jordan Campbell wide open for a 3-pointer in transition.
Already furious, Self called his second timeout in 3 minutes and tried get his point across a little stronger.
Nope. The Jayhawks still had one more laughable gaffe in them.
Coming out of a media timeout, Kansas started to run a play when senior Sherron Collins began motioning wildly to the bench. Tyshawn Taylor, who was on the court before the timeout, was still seated after being told by Self that he was out. Problem was, Tyrel Reed didn’t hear Self and remained on the bench, too, leaving the Jayhawks with just four players.
Finally realizing what had happened, Taylor leaped up and sprinted down the court, flowing in like a hockey player about halfway through the shot clock as Self shook his head in disgust.
The play resulted in two free throws for Aldrich — thanks to a pass from Taylor — but clearly the focus wasn’t quite there.
“I didn’t even know we only had four players until Tyshawn came running out onto the court,” Aldrich said.
Kansas pulled it together just enough to lead 36-26 at halftime and was much better in the second half, opening with a 20-4 run and shooting 19 of 29 for its seventh win of 30 or more points.
Another easy win, but one that showed the Jayhawks there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“We are No. 1 and we have something to prove, I think,” Morris said. “We still have to prove ourselves to every other team. If we come out and play like we’re not supposed to, we will get beat by any team.”
BELMONT (7-5) — Belcher 3-11 0-0 6, Hedgepeth 3-9 0-0 7, Johnson 1-6 0-3 2, Clark 4-14 1-2 11, Campbell 1-6 0-0 3, Hanlen 4-6 0-0 11, Rice 1-3 0-0 3, House 1-3 0-0 2, Saunders 1-2 2-3 4, Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Noack 0-2 0-0 0, Baker 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 20-65 3-8 51.
KANSAS (12-0) — Marc.Morris 6-7 2-4 14, Aldrich 4-5 3-4 11, X.Henry 3-9 1-3 8, Collins 4-7 0-0 9, Taylor 2-4 3-4 7, Robinson 2-3 1-3 5, Teahan 0-0 0-0 0, Withey 1-2 0-1 2, Morningstar 1-4 0-0 3, C.Henry 3-4 0-0 8, Reed 2-4 0-0 5, Johnson 3-3 1-2 7, Mark.Morris 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 32-57 11-21 81.
Halftime — Kansas 36-26. 3-Point Goals — Belmont 8-27 (Hanlen 3-4, Clark 2-4, Hedgepeth 1-1, Rice 1-3, Campbell 1-5, House 0-1, Baker 0-1, Noack 0-2, Belcher 0-6), Kansas 6-17 (C.Henry 2-3, Morningstar 1-2, Reed 1-2, Collins 1-4, X.Henry 1-5, Taylor 0-1). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Belmont 39 (Campbell 6), Kansas 40 (Aldrich 14). Assists — Belmont 13 (Hanlen 3), Kansas 24 (X.Henry, Taylor 5). Total Fouls — Belmont 18, Kansas 14. A — 16,300.