LAHAINA, Hawaii – A stout defensive effort turned a two-point halftime edge into a 15-point victory as No. 4/5 Kansas (5-1) defeated the BYU Cougars, 71-56, in the semifinals of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Tuesday night inside the Lahaina Civic Center. Sophomore forward David McCormack led Kansas with 16 points, while senior Udoka Azubuike posted his second double-double of the season.
Kansas advanced to the Maui Invitational Championship game where it will meet the Dayton Flyers on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 4 p.m. (CT) on ESPN.
It was an offensive struggle for both sides over the first 20 minutes of play, with the Jayhawks and Cougars combining for 18 turnovers and 22 field goals before the intermission. It was a trio of KU sophomores that paced the Crimson and Blue in the opening stanza to help their team take a two-point lead into the half. McCormack (eight points), Devon Dotson (seven points) and Ochai Agbaji (seven points) combined for 22 of the team’s 29 first-half points as the KU defense held the Cougars to 38 percent from the field on 10-of-26 shooting.
It appeared neither team would gain more than one or two possessions of separation, but the Jayhawks stormed out of the break to quickly flip that script. KU jumped out on a 13-4 run over the first six minutes of the second half to grow its lead to double digits, with Agbaji’s second 3-pointer of the night pushing the KU lead to 42-31.
The Kansas defense continued to shut down the potent BYU offense, with the Cougars managing just four field goals over the first 12 minutes of the second stanza. The Jayhawks also forced six BYU turnovers during that span to help build its lead to 19 points with just over seven minutes to play in regulation.
The KU scoresheet was a balanced one over the final 20 minutes as well, with the five Jayhawk starters each putting in six or more points. This helped Kansas thwart the upset-minded Cougars by a tally of 42-29 in the second half to close out the 71-56 victory.
McCormack led the squad in scoring for the first time this season via his 16-point outing to go along with five rebounds. Azubuike posted 11 points and 10 rebounds to turn in his second double-double of the season, while Agbaji went 6-of-9 from the field and connected on a pair of 3-pointers to add 14 points.
The Jayhawks were held to under 50 percent shooting for the first time in their last four outings, but not by much. KU went 29-for-61 for a 48 percent clip, but held BYU to 41 percent shooting, as well as a 9-of-33 mark (27 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. KU also forced 20 BYU turnovers, the second time in as many games that the Jayhawks’ opponent has posted 20 or more giveaways.
Kansas will meet Dayton in the Maui Invitational Championship game on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. The Jayhawks, looking for their third Maui Invitational title, will tip-off at 4 p.m. (CT) on ESPN.