Three Jayhawks had double doubles for the fourth time in the Roy Williams era as Kansas pasted Rice, 88-61, on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Fans might do a double-take when they peek at the box score of Monday night's Kansas-Rice basketball game.
Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce and Eric Chenowith recorded double-doubles in points and rebounds, while Ryan Robertson registered double-digit assists in the Jayhawks' 88-61 victory over the Owls at Allen Fieldhouse.
"That is not unusual for this team," junior forward Pierce said after scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He and freshman center Chenowith (15 points, 12 boards) had their first double-doubles of the season, while senior forward LaFrentz followed his 22-point, 19-rebound effort against Santa Clara with 26 points and 10 boards against the Owls.
"I remember times last year we did it with Scot (Pollard), me and Raef," Pierce said.
Actually, it marked the fourth time in the Roy Williams era three Jayhawks recorded double-doubles. KU last accomplished the feat in an NCAA Tournament victory over Jackson State last March.
"I liked our work on the backboards. Three guys in double figures is impressive," KU coach Williams said.
The Jayhawks outrebounded the Owls, 53-34, and outshot Rice, 52.2 percent to 37.5. However, to Williams' dismay, the Jayhawks committed 18 turnovers while forcing 14.
"I am not trying to put a cloud on it. We are the sorriest defensive team we've had since I've been here," Williams said. "We have a lot of work to do. The good news is when we have this much room to improve, we will get better. If we do that, it'll be the real growth of this team."
To that end, the Jayhawks will practice today prior to meeting Western Kentucky in a first-round Preseason NIT game at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
"We'll keep drilling and drilling and hopefully take things from a drill situation into a five-on-five in practice and from practice into a game situation," Williams said.
Monday's game pretty much was over by halftime. The Jayhawks, who led 21-15 with 9:28 left, had a half-ending 24-10 burst.
"We had a great run the last four minutes of the first half. I think that sort of did the game right there," Williams said, referring to a 11-3 spurt that was capped by a Robertson lob to Billy Thomas for a resounding slam dunk just before the buzzer.
"In the second half, we were trying to hold things together and get better," Williams said.
The dunk by Thomas came off a set play against Rice's zone defense.
"We didn't have our two best jumpers -- Kenny (Gregory) or Paul -- in the game," Williams said. "Nick (Bradford) was on one side and Billy the other. Ryan made a great pass and Billy went up and got it.
"That was a good way to end the half on a positive note."
LaFrentz and Pierce took over early in the second half. The duo combined for 20 of KU's first 25 points as KU led, 70-40, with 11:06 left.
KU was able to withstand an onslaught by forward Jarvis Kelley Sanni, who scored 25 points on 11-of-24 shooting and grabbed 11 boards.
"Jarvis Kelley Sanni was something for them tonight," Williams said. "It seems every time I looked he's getting an offensive board. Rice's club will be very good when they get Bobby Crawford back."
The Owls, 0-2, were playing without shooting guard Crawford, their leading returning scorer from a year ago.
For 2-0 KU, Thomas contributed 12 points, while Gregory had seven points and six assists. Just a freshman, Chenowith again impressed with his 6-of-10 shooting and five blocks.
"Eric did a nice job on the boards," Pierce said. "We have to do a good job rebounding. I feel it's my job to go to the boards, too."
-- Gary Bedore's phone message number is 832-7186. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.