Right off the bat, this game looked like it was going to be a long one for the Jayhawk faithful. Kelly Oubre turned it over on the very first possession, and it didn't seem to get much better from there. The D come out half-asleep, as Kent State repeatedly was able to find the open man or an uncontested shot as a result of the Jayhawks overhelping or not helping when they should.
Adding to the defensive woes was the fact that pretty much everyone was unable to get going on offense. There were too many miscues early, and Perry Ellis was fairly cold, only going 4-11 before making two quick shots at the end of the half. Luckily, Oubre was there to save the day. He scored 8 of the first 10 points, and when Kent State started closing in on him, it opened up the floor for others to contribute offensively. Combine his sharpshooting with the defense picking up shortly before the half, and Kansas was somehow able to turn a 22-16 deficit ten minutes into the game into a 39-33 halftime lead.
Whatever was said or done during halftime needs to be done during the pregame the rest of the year. Kansas came out after the break like a completely different team. They went on an 8-2 run to start the half, and then after the first TV timeout, went on another 7-2 run. At that point, Kent State was only 1-12 shooting in the half, a combination of their hot shooting cooling and stifling defense by the Jayhawks. Unfortunately, the pep talk wore off a bit from there as the D softened up and Kent State went on a brief 10-2 spurt to get it back to single digits. Oubre had gone cold in the second half and the Golden Flashes appeared to be getting their swagger back.
It was at this point that Cliff Alexander decide to be the hero, and he really carried the team through the critical stretch of the game. First, he muscled his way in for a rebound and putback. Then, in a short minute and a half he completely takes over and changes the entire complexion of the game for the Jayhawks. Just take a look at the play-by-play.
That sequence just before the 7 minute mark was key, as he got a huge block, directing it to Ellis. As soon as he blocked it, he raced down the floor to finish the alley-oop from Wayne Selden. This energized the entire team, as the defense in general stepped up from this point forward, and you could tell that the Kent State players knew the game was over at this point.
The Jayhawks capped off a 16-4 run over about 4 minutes, and with about 4 minutes left and a 21 point lead, the team started to relax. Kent State was able to put a little bit of a run together, and they got a nice 3 from 7'4" center Blake Vedder, but even with the benchwarmers in, Kansas cruised to a 16 point win. And to cap it all off, Tyler Self scored on a run-out for his first two points of the season. I can't think of a better way to end the game.