November 23, 2011

KU comes up short

Tyshawn Taylor scored 17 points in a tough loss to Duke in the championship of the Maui Invitational, 68-61. Duke is now 15-0 in Maui while Kansas can take away plenty of positives for the rest of the season.

It was the type of championship you love to see, especially with two of the top programs of all time battling it out for the title.

No. 14 Kansas, which was the underdog and not expected to hang with Duke, gave the Blue Devils everything they could handle for 40 minutes Wednesday night.

Tyshawn Taylor led Kansas with 17 points but hurt his teams' cause with 11 turnovers, including several within the last few minutes of the game which led to key Duke offensive possessions.

In the first half, KU received an incredible performance from junior center Jeff Withey, who played great defense, led the team offensively, but most important, stayed out of foul trouble.

Withey finished with a double-double, scoring 14 points and snagging 10 rebounds, but appeared to suffer from a fair amount of fatigue late in the second half.

All-American candidate Thomas Robinson had yet another good game for Kansas, recording his fifth double-double of the year (16 points, 15 rebounds) and nearly won the game for the Jayhawks with his exceptional play in the low blocks.

With just minutes left, junior Elijah Johnson hit an important and clutch three to put Kansas up, but the Jayhawks were unable to get the defensive stops when needed. Johnson was quiet throughout the night, especially considering the night before he scored a career-high 23-points against UCLA.

Just when the Jayhawks seemed to have the game under control, sophomore Tyler Thornton hit two incredible three-pointers which made the difference for Duke. Thornton finished with 7 points overall, but the Blue Devils were led by junior forward Ryan Kelly's 17 points, which came from both inside and out.

Duke received its toughest test of the season but prevailed for another Maui title, while Kansas can head back home with heads held high and a confidence-building road trip as they continue on through the season.

If there is something negative to take away, particularly from the championship game, it's that head coach Bill Self was unwilling to use his reserves, specifically Naadir Tharpe and Kevin Young in a game in which the top six players for KU appeared to suffer from fatigue.

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