There would be no large leads early for No. 5 Kansas in the championship game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
Just a night after running UAB out of the gym at the very start, the Jayhawks found themselves in a big time brawl early in the Sprint Center.
Kansas (4-1) came into Tuesday night’s title game holding a 32-6 record in the Sprint Center, and a 9-1 mark in the CBE Classic. The Jayhawks came in search of their second title in the event in three appearances.
The Jayhawks won the event back in 2012 with a 14 point victory over Saint Louis.
Foul trouble from the big men was a concern early on, where Bill Self was forced into sitting starters Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas with two early fouls. Off the bench, Udoka Azubuike picked up two fouls in just three minutes, and was forced to sit as well.
Despite being limited by foul trouble and trailing by as much as six, Kansas managed to keep Georgia at arms-length throughout the first half behind a collective effort from Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, and Josh Jackson, who combined for 33 of the Jayhawks’ 35 first half points.
Georgia (3-2) was led by junior forward Yante Maten, who kept the Bulldogs in the game with 17 of his own in the first half, but just 8 total points outside of Maten resulted in the Georgia offense struggling against Kansas in the opening period, shooting just 28.6% from the field.
To Georgia head coach Mark Fox, the CBE title game meant a little more to him. Fox, a Kansas alumni, received his master’s degree in Lawrence in 1996.
Coach Fox is no stranger to the Jayhawks, leading his former team, Nevada, to a win in Allen Fieldhouse back in 2005, one of only 9 teams to walk out of the Phog victorious in Bill Self’s tenure at KU.
In the second half, it was more of the same for Kansas. Using a 10-0 run over the middle of the second period, Kansas put some distance between themselves and the Bulldogs.
Dwight Coleby put in his most valuable minutes as a Jayhawk when he was needed most. With fouls mounting, Coleby saw his most minutes of the year against Georgia, and his value came on the defensive end, tallying 4 rebounds and 4 blocks in 20 minutes on the hardwood.
Kansas was uable to take complete control, however, as Yante Maten led another Georgia charge late in the second half. The Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run to get within 9 points, but that was as close as they would get.
Kansas pushed the lead back out to double digits, and improved to 4-1 on the year with a 65-54 win over the Georgia Bulldogs. Yante Maten led all scorers with 30, but no other Bulldog would reach double figures.
The Jayhawks, on the other hand, had three players register double digits in the points column. Frank Mason put up 19, Josh Jackson had 15, and Devonte’ Graham registered 14 in one of KU’s best team scoring efforts from the starters this season.
Josh Jackson has arrived. Jackson combined for 37 points in two games at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, and earned the All-Tournament MVP.
The Bigs. Foul trouble rattled the Jayhawks inside, and they were never able to get anything going. Lucas, Bragg, and Azubuike went a combined 1/3 from the field with a total of 3 points, all of them from Carlton Bragg.
Kansas will return home Friday night against UNC-Asheville in their final CBE Classic host game. Tipoff is set for 7 PM CT.