Nov. 20, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Travis Releford showed some newfound aggressiveness in scoring 17 points Monday night, and No. 12 Kansas roared to a 78-41 victory over Washington State in the semifinals of the CBE Classic.
Perry Ellis added 12 points and Ben McLemore had 10 for the Jayhawks (3-1), who built a double-digit lead in the opening minutes and never looked back.
They'll play Saint Louis, a 70-49 winner over Texas A&M, in Tuesday night's championship game.
Brock Motum had 14 points for the Cougars (2-2), but he didn't get a whole lot of help.
Washington State shot just 29.1 percent from the field, went 4 of 22 from beyond the 3-point line and committed 14 turnovers while dishing out just seven assists.
The Cougars didn't attempt a free throw until Motum converted a three-point play with 13 minutes left in the game.
By that point, the result had long been determined.
Releford was a big reason why.
The senior has earned a reputation for being a lockdown defender, and was a key piece of the team that advanced to last year's national championship game. But despite showing scoring ability, he's never become one of the Jayhawks' dependable offensive threats.
He was Monday night, hitting two 3-pointers and finishing 6 of 7 from the field.
While the veteran was taking care of his business, the Jayhawks' talented freshman class was doing its part. McLemore followed up a miss by Ellis with a thunderous dunk during their big first half and unveiled a silky-smooth outside jump shot.
McLemore opened the game with a 3-pointer, and added another moments later, as the Jayhawks shredded Washington State coach Ken Bone's zone defense.
Elijah Johnson got into the act with a 3 later to give Kansas a 21-6 lead, forcing Bone into calling a timeout. The Jayhawks started 8 of 10 from the field, and wound up 5 of 10 from beyond the arc over the first 20 minutes.
Washington State tried to get back into the game behind Motum, last year's Pac-12 scoring leader. He scored six straight to keep the Cougars within 36-21, but the last basket with 6:44 left represented the final points Washington State would score before the break.
Kevin Young made a couple of free throws for Kansas, Releford made a 3-pointer and Ellis got to work inside. He stuck a put-back and twice down the stretch got to the foul line, where he was 6 of 6 in the first half, helping the Jayhawks close it with a 14-0 run.
Jeff Withey added a put-back of his own miss to make it 52-21 early in the second half, and Motum finally ended a 10-minute drought for the Cougars with his 3-pointer with 16:40 remaining.
Kansas pushed the lead to 40 before coasting down the stretch.