Most of the experts expected Monday night's game between Kansas and Kent State to be a close contest. However, that didn't turnout to be the case. Four players scored in double-figures for the Jayhawks, including a game high 19-points from junior guard Sherron Collins. The Golden Flashes pulled to within 12-points midway through the second half, but Collins took over from that point, and Kansas cruised to a 87-60 victory over Kent State.
The outcome of Monday nights contest between Kansas and Kent State was never in doubt. The Jayhawks took a commanding lead of 37-24 into intermission. Defensively, Self's squad limited Al Fisher to just five points during the first half of action.
Kansas continued to increase its lead early in the second half, but Kent State fought back and trimmed the lead to 12, 67-55. The Golden Flashes would get no closer, mostly due to the play of Sherron Collins.
The junior guard scored 10-points down the stretch and absolutely refused to let Kansas suffer a letdown against Kent State. When his teammates needed him most, Collins was there to deliver. He simply showed why he is considered one of the top guards in all of college basketball.
"Sherron did take over the game the second half, there is no question," said Self. "He played really good down the stretch. He did a really good job in the paint and made a couple of terrific plays."
Collins did a little bit of everything against the Golden Flashes. He was 6-of-14 from the field, 1-4 from behind the arc, 6-of-6 from the free-throw line and scored a game-high 19-points. After being limited in the first half due to foul trouble, Collins scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half.
Most of those points were scored after Kent State pulled to within 12 in the second half. Collins was clearly the biggest different maker on Monday night. It was a physical game, but according to Collins, it's the type of game KU will have to get used to playing.
"That's what we have to get used to," said Collins. "We've got to do a better job and we've got to get tougher. We have to be looking for games like that and we have to be aggressive instead of reacting to somebody being more aggressive.
"We like to run and do things to speed the game up," he added. "That's why we have to do a good job of executing. We have to get a good shot every time. Its hard to get in a rhythm like that, but in a post season game that's how it is, so its just helping us later on in the season."
Kansas and Kent State certainly played a physical style of basketball. At one point in the game, it was almost too physical. Early in the second half, Markieff Morris was given a flagrant foul and was kicked out of the game.
It looked as if Morris took a swing at a Kent State player who had taken a shot at him a few seconds earlier. The referees looked over the incident on the monitor and gave Morris a flagrant foul, which prevented him from returning to the game.
"Well, it was a flagrant foul," said Self after the game. "A flagrant foul means you're ejected from that game."
In all, Self's squad put together a solid performance on Monday night. As a team, they connected on 25-of-59 field goals, 5-of-11 shots from behind the arc, and 32-of-36 free-throws. They won the battle on the boards, 40-31, dished out 14 assists, swatted five shots and had 12 steals.
From an individual standpoint, Collins wasn't the only player to shine against Kent State. Marcus Morris scored 14-points and pulled down 10 rebounds against the Golden Flashes. While he connected on just 3-of-9 field goals, Morris was 8-of-12 from the free-throw line, had one block and one steal.
Cole Aldrich was 3-of-7 from the field, 4-of-4 from the free-throw line, scored 10-points and pulled down 13 rebounds. The sophomore big man from Minnesota also blocked a game high four shots.
In 35 minutes of action, Tyshawn Taylor scored 12-points, dished out two dimes (assists) and was credited with three steals. Defensively, Taylor did an outstanding job helping limit Al Fisher to just five points.
Kent State's leading scorer was just 2-of-11 from the field and 1-of-4 from behind the arc.
"Coach said he (Al Fisher) was a really good player," said Taylor. "I watched tape on him, and I knew he was going to come out and look to score. I got into him really early and took him out of his groove. I feel like I did a good job, and my coaches told me I did a really good job. He can score a lot, and I feel like I did a good job of holding him back.
"Yes, I think so," Taylor added when asked if he can be tough defensively. "[Coach Self] wants to rest Sherron, so he's going to put me on the best guard to save Sherron for the offensive end. Whatever I have to do to make the team better, I'll do that."
Since dropping its first game of the season to Syracuse back on November 25, Kansas has won two straight games. The Jayhawks will look to make it three straight when New Mexico State comes to town on December 3.
Self expects his team to be tested on Wednesday night.
"They are talented, really talented," said Self. "When we put this schedule together, people always look at Tennessee, Arizona and Michigan State, but the hard games are Kent, New Mexico State, and Siena.
"We have a good schedule," he added.
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