Men's Basketball, Sports

No. 13 Kansas, Robinson survive late LBSU run

LAWRENCE, Kan. — It’s hard to defend against perfection, even for only one half. The Long Beach State men’s basketball team faced this unique challenge Tuesday night against the University of Kansas in the house that James Naismith built.

Jayhawks junior forward Thomas Robinson shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line en route to 18 first half points.

The last time LBSU traveled to Kansas was 1993, and the ‘Niners pulled off an unlikely upset over the then-No. 1-ranked Jayhawks.

History wouldn’t repeat itself 18 years later as the Beach fell to No. 13-ranked Kansas, 88-80, in front of 16,300 fans who made Allen Fieldhouse sound like it held many more, with the raucous crowd serving as a sixth man all night.

“We come in with four seniors and we did not play like seniors to begin with,” LBSU head coach Dan Monson said. “Defensively, I probably made a mistake. We wanted [Thomas] Robinson to try to beat us from the perimeter, and he certainly did that.”

Monson added: “I just felt like our guys did not trust each other down the stretch enough. Bottom line is you have got to give Kansas some credit. They played with confidence and they built that lead up not by accident.”

Maybe it was the 28-degree weather, but Robinson certainly had ice running through his veins as he led the Jayhawks to a 19-point first half lead that The Beach only trimmed to 12 at the break.

Robinson registered a double-double, scoring a career-high 26 points to go with 11 rebounds and three assists.

The ‘Niners (4-4) were able to shore up their defense and make things much more interesting in the second half, with multiple runs that eventually brought the score to 84-80 after a 3-pointer from junior wing James Ennis with 42 seconds remaining.

That would be as close as The Beach would come, though, as the Jayhawks (6-2) converted four free throws in the waning seconds to seal the victory.

LBSU senior forward T.J. Robinson did all he could to keep The Beach close in the first half, scoring 17 of his team-high 19 points in the opening frame and finishing with seven rebounds.

Sharp defensive play and the emergence of Ennis in the second half fueled the ‘Niners comeback bid.

After a scoreless first period, Ennis returned after the break with 16 points to go with one of his two assists and four of his six steals.

The best opportunity for The Beach came with just over three minutes to play. Down by five, 77-72, Thomas Robinson missed two free-throw attempts.

The ‘Niners were unable to secure the rebound following the second attempt, and after two offensive boards later, KU senior Tyshawn Taylor converted a layup and was fouled on the attempt.

The guard converted the 3-point play and the Jayhawks took an eight-point lead and never looked back.

Despite committing 14 turnovers to Kansas’ whopping 22, The Beach was out-rebounded, 41-24, thanks in part to its 41.5 percent shooting effort (22 of 53). Kansas, however, shot lights out from the field, finishing with a 54.2 percent clip (32 of 59).

Robinson and Ennis were two of four Long Beach starters to score in double figures, as senior guards Casper Ware and Larry Anderson added 16 and 14, respectively. Anderson also contributed a game-high seven assists to go with three boards.

Anderson said the team did not respond quickly enough to the early deficit.

“They just knocked down shots,” Anderson said. “We left Connor [Teahan] open twice in that little run. It was 12 before we probably even scored.”

Teahan, who scored a career-high 14 for the Jayhawks, shot 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

Kansas had five players in double figures. Senior center Jeff Withey scored 13 and pulled down a game-high 13 boards, and nine blocks.

Taylor added 12 points and junior forward Travis Releford scored 10 in the balanced effort.

The ‘Niners’ schedule doesn’t let up as the team heads to North Carolina to face the No. 4 Tar Heels on Saturday at 4 p.m. (PT).

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