LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Cole Aldrich and No. 22 Kansas briefly lost their focus in the second half against Coppin State on Friday night, and coach Bill Self was right there to deliver an animated lesson.
Self called timeout and had a spirited little chat with his players after Coppin State chopped a 31-point deficit down to 17, and the Jayhawks rolled to an 85-53 victory.
“The biggest reason I was upset was because we didn’t ever stop them,” Self said. “That first 15 minutes we really guarded them, really guarded them. But (in the second half) we weren’t as intense. There wasn’t as much pressure. Guys played the score as opposed to playing the game.”
Aldrich had a career-high 23 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Jayhawks (4-1) won their 27th straight at home. Brady Morningstar had a career-best 21 points and Sherron Collins had 11 points and a career-high eight assists for the Jayhawks, who went on a 34-3 tear in the first half.
“In the second half there for a while, we weren’t playing very stellar,” Aldrich said. “We came out playing pretty hard, rebounding and moving the ball. But then we kind of hit a little slump once we got up big.”
Eagles coach Ron Mitchell said his team just needed to settle down and get used to the big crowd.
“I thought they were just so intimidated in the first half with the crowd noise,” he said. “And they weren’t used to that. The second half, our team came out and played like they’re capable of playing.”
Morningstar hit his first four 3-point attempts and finished 6-for-8 from behind the arc.
“I thought Brady was our best player out there,” Self said.
Tywain McKee had 17 points and Rigoberto Sargeant had eight points and seven rebounds for Coppin State (1-2), which is playing its first 15 games away from home.
“In the second half, we were more aggressive and we came out a little more confident,” McKee said. “I might have been a little too anxious in the first half. I love playing against the big-time schools. I wouldn’t mind playing all our games on the road against the big-time schools.”
Finding a shooting touch that deserted them in the first half, the Eagles sliced the lead to 59-42 on Jordan Lee’s bucket with 10:02 to go. That made them 11-for-16 from the floor in the second half after hitting only 6-of-27 in the opening 20 minutes.
After the chat with Self, Collins responded with a three-point play, but McKee’s 3-pointer cut it to 17 again. Aldrich, a 6-foor-11 sophomore, then took a nifty feed from Collins and banked home a 5-footer. Travis Releford’s free throw put Kansas back on top by 21, 66-45, with 7:19 left.
Morningstar, who made only one of five 3-pointers in the first four games, looked good from the start against the Eagles. The sophomore’s first 3-pointer followed one by Tyshawn Taylor. After a Coppin State turnover, Morningstar drained another 3 to put Kansas on top 24-4.
Aldrich rebounded a Coppin State miss and Morningstar’s fourth 3 gave the Jayhawks a 27-4 lead.
Taylor crashed to the floor and was helped into the locker room with 8:57 left, favoring one leg. The freshman had 10 points and five assists and said later he was OK.
“I just came down on my (left) foot when I jumped to contest a shot,” he said. “It’s a little sore, but I will be fine.”