Kansas took care of Lehigh on Thursday but faces a much more difficult road from here on out and it…
KU Drops Lehigh, 90-74
Playing like they had nothing to lose, the Mountain Hawks came out ready to play as they built an early 12-4 lead. Kansas missed 10 of its first 12 shots and turned the ball over four times to give the Lehigh fans plenty to cheer about in the early going.
At the 14 minute mark, Kansas buckled down on defense behind the play of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Cole Aldrich. Aldrich blocked a shot and Marcus Morris hit a three on the other end. On Lehigh's next possession, Tyshawn Taylor made a steal and raced for an easy bucket. Aldrich then blocked another shot and was fed by Taylor in the post for a three-point play and the game was tied at 12.
Kansas ultimately went on a 21-2 run to gain its biggest lead of the half (25-14) with 6:23 left on the first half clock. Not beaten yet, the Mountain Hawks started to claw back with their own 9-0 run.
With 2:50 left in the half, the Lehigh faithful finally got what they were waiting for when CJ McCollum - the Patriot League Player of the Year - hit his first bucket after starting 0-for-8 from the field. McCollum's long jumper cut the lead to one with KU ahead 26-25.
Clearly upset that KU had let its lead dwindle, Sherron Collins took over, scoring seven of KU's last nine points of the half and the Jayhawks led 35-29 at the break.
After starting 2-of-12 from the field, Kansas finished 14-of-32 for 43.8 percent in the first half while holding Lehigh to 36.4 percent (12-of-33). KU led on the boards 23-20 and owned a 20-12 advantage in the paint. Marcus Morris for Kansas and Zahir Carrington each had 12 points to lead the scoring.
Whatever was troubling Kansas in the first half, head coach Bill Self was able to resolve in the locker room as the Jayhawks came out and played much better in the second half.
Kansas started the half with a quick bucket from Aldrich on a feed from Collins. Looking to pick up the tempo, Kansas got two more baskets from Xavier Henry. McCollum started to fill it up for the Mountain Hawks, but Kansas always had an answer. With 11:24 left, the lead was back to double-digits with KU taking its biggest lead of 56-44.
From there, Lehigh was never able to seriously threaten despite a great 26-point effort from McCollum.
Kansas ended the game shooting 55.1 percent from the field including 64.9 percent in the second half alone. Lehigh shot 44.3 percent. KU held the edge on the glass 41-33 and benefitted from 17 assists including six from Collins, who also had 18 points and four rebounds on his birthday.
Aldrich and Henry each had 11 points for Kansas. Carrington finished with 17 points and six boards for Lehigh.
Kansas advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round for the 25th time in the last 27 years. The Jayhawks will face ninth-seeded Northern Iowa on CBS at 4:40 p.m. on Saturday, March 24.
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