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UCLA is barely a speed bump in Kansas’ path as No. 5 Jayhawks roll, 92-73

Kansas guard Frank Mason III celebrates with guard Devonte' Graham, left, after scoring against UCLA during the first half of a game at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Nov. 24.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III celebrates with guard Devonte’ Graham, left, after scoring against UCLA during the first half of a game at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Nov. 24.

(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Kansas found a nice, easy path to the championship game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, casually stepping over outmatched UCLA on Tuesday night.

The fifth-ranked Jayhawks, who won their first-round game by a tournament-record 51 points, cruised past the Bruins, 92-73, Tuesday night in the semifinals and will face No. 19 Vanderbilt in the title game Wednesday.

The game actually wasn’t as close as the final score, as Kansas (3-1) led by as many as 29 points in the first half, by 59-33 at halftime and by no fewer than 20 for all but the closing seconds.

“Really tough first half,” said UCLA Coach Steve Alford, whose team needed a late surge to beat Nevada Las Vegas, 77-75, in its tournament opener Monday night. “We haven’t started either opening half well at all since we’ve been here. Didn’t think we started the game well against UNLV and we didn’t start the game well tonight.

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“Give my guys credit at halftime. When you get knocked down, you either lay there and wait until somebody picks you up or you show some character and some toughness and some pride and do better. I thought in the second half we calmed down offensively, and then we were able to put together some decent defensive stops.”

Isaac Hamilton scored 19 points, Aaron Holiday had 16 and Tony Parker 15 for UCLA (3-2), which could never put together two solid possessions in the first half.

“Just defense,” Kansas’ Perry Ellis said. “That was the key, getting stops, and we were getting those stops and we were running, running great, running the floor great, and got some easy buckets.”

Ellis scored 24 points on nine-for-12 shooting for the Jayhawks. Frank Mason III had 16 points and Wayne Selden Jr. finished with 15.

“That’s a very, very good basketball team, definitely a top-five team in the country,” Alford said. “If we play poorly in a 20-minute stretch against that, it’s going to be hard on us, and that’s what happened tonight.”

UCLA on Wednesday will play Wake Forest, which lost on Tuesday to Vanderbilt, 86-64.


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