Kansas Rallies to Beat Pepperdine at Denver in the ‘Cold’ Apple NIT
Pepperdine almost realized its hopes of starting the season with a winning bang Friday night against highly ranked Kansas. But the Jayhawks squeaked by the Waves, 67-61, in the first round of the Big Apple National Invitation Tournament before 4,366 fans who braved 11-degree weather to come to McNichols Arena.
The Jayhawks’ 6-11 Danny Manning and 7-1 Greg Dreiling both got away slowly. Dreiling was held scoreless in the first period, and Manning had only four points at halftime.
But Manning finished the game with 12 points, while Calvin Thompson had a team-high 14 points and Cedric Hunter added 12.
Kansas, trailing by as many as seven points in the first half and down, 29-28, at intermission, seized the momentum early in the second half, outscoring the Waves, 13-4, in the first 3:28 of the half to move to a 41-33 lead. Manning had 8 of Kansas’ first 10 points during that spree, and Dreiling added the last 3.
Dreiling, asserting himself in the second half, had 9 points and 7 rebounds.
Dwayne Polee led Pepperdine with 14 points, Eric White added 13, and Jon Korfas had 10.
Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick said his team “did everything we wanted to do, but it was a combination of things that beat us. If we played again, maybe we could get the breaks.”
Kansas Coach Larry Brown said: “I am thrilled to get out with a win. We were not totally prepared, and I frankly didn’t expect anything more tonight. We still have to work on our delay game, our pressure defense, rebound better and handle the ball better.
“Tonight I thought we were playing scared. We’re not used to being highly-thought-of. Pressure can do that to you.”
In Sunday’s tournament quarterfinal-round game here, the Jayhawks will play Washington, which routed Texas El Paso, 82-53.