Long Beach State falls to No. 13 Kansas, 88-80
LAWRENCE, Kan.—Long Beach State head Dan Monson made the mistake of wanting Kansas forward Thomas Robinson to beat his team from the perimeter.
"He certainly did that," Monson said.
Robinson hit his first eight shots of the game, scoring 18 points in the first half and 26 total while leading No. 13 Kansas to an 88-80 victory over the 49ers on Tuesday night.
Long Beach State trailed by 19 midway through the first half before mounting a comeback. Led by a veteran core that won the Big West last season, the 49ers got it to within four with 44 seconds left, but they eventually ran out of time.
T.J. Robinson had 19 points, and Ennis and Casper Ware each had 16 for the 49ers, who knocked off Pittsburgh on the road and also played then-No. 6 Louisville tough, and will visit fourth-ranked North Carolina on Saturday.
"This is a group that isn't going to lose confidence," Monson said.
The only adjustment Monson made in the second half against Kansas was to come out on Robinson and leave center Jeff Withey in more one-on-one situations. They sagged on Robinson early, and he was able to knock down mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper, before trying a zone that also failed.
"Maybe I tried to monkey with our defense a little bit too much," Monson said.
Connor Teahan finished with a career-high 14 points for the Jayhawks (6-2). Withey finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Tyshawn Taylor -- the Jayhawks' starting point guard -- came off the bench because of a right knee injury to finish with 12 points.
Long Beach State closed within 77-72 with 3:01 remaining on a 3-pointer and two free throws by James Ennis, but Taylor answered after two offensive rebounds when he was fouled on a scoop layup. The three-point play gave Kansas some breathing room, and Withey added another three-point play moments later to make it 83-72. The Jayhawks managed to drain the remaining time off the clock.
"That could have been a 30-point game, too. I've seen that happen in this place," Monson said. "The seniors did step up, but it was down 19. There was no quit in them so I don't think the effort wasn't an issue."
Kansas appeared as if it would tune up for No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday in the opening minutes.
Robinson led the Jayhawks on a 16-4 run to start the game, showing that he can score from all over the floor. He made a couple inside to force the Long Beach State defense to collapse on him, and then went outside to knock down a pair of 18-footers just moments apart.
The Jayhawks' lead ballooned to 34-15 with 9:31 remaining when Robinson scored on consecutive possessions and Teahan knocked down his fourth 3-pointer, but Long Beach State showed off its veteran poise by keeping things from getting out of hand. Edis Dervisevic scored in the paint with 2:31 left in the half, trimming the lead to 41-32 and sending Kansas coach Bill Self tearing into his bench.
That's when Robinson showed just how versatile he's become.
First, he took a feed from Kevin Young and powered home a dunk. Then he returned the favor by finding Young, who was fouled on a drive to the basket and converted a three-point play. And then the big fella helped set up a three-point play by Elijah Johnson that capped a scoring flurry.
Kansas wound up with a 51-39 lead at halftime. Robinson was 8 of 8 from the field and perfect on both of his throws to go along with six rebounds, and the Jayhawks shot 58.8 percent as a team.
They didn't come close to that number in the second half.
The biggest problem was turnovers -- the Jayhawks wound up with 22 of them, and it was everyone getting into the act. Nobody in the lineup had more than five, though four different players had at least four, and Long Beach managed to turn several of them into easy baskets.
Just not enough of them in the closing minutes to pull out the win.
"We played really well the first half, for the most part," Self said. "The thing that's most pitiful for us is the last 24 points they scored, 21 were off our turnovers. Our guards had zero assists and six turnovers the second half. It's hard to look good when you don't get shots. That was about as miserable of a performance the last 10 minutes as I've ever seen.