KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — First-year Washington coach Mike Hopkins saw how Kansas dissected Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense last week, so he made a couple tweaks to his own version before facing the Jayhawks on Wednesday night.
Primarily, Hopkins stretched the zone to take away the 3-pointer.
It worked to perfection.
The Huskies frustrated the Jayhawks’ dangerous lineup of deep threats, Matisse Thybulle hit five-pointers and scored 19 points, and Washington kept its poise down the stretch for a 74-65 victory that knocked No. 2 Kansas from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“We’ve been very fortunate this year to play a lot of teams that shoot 30 and 35 3-pointers. It’s really the kryptonite of the zone,” said Hopkins, who spent 22 years on Jim Boeheim’s staff at Syracuse, a tenure that came in handy considering the Jayhawks just beat the Orange.
“I felt like this could be our best opportunity to win the game,” Hopkins said.
Jaylen Nowell also had 15 points, and Noah Dickerson added 13 points and 14 rebounds, as the Huskies (7-2) beat the Jayhawks (7-1) for the first time since December 1974.
“We really just didn’t have it tonight. You have to give them credit,” the Jayhawks’ Devonte Graham said. “They made every shot and they did a good job of not letting us get comfortable.”
Lagerald Vick had a career-high 28 points for Kansas, doing almost all his damage in the middle of the Huskies’ zone. But he didn’t get a whole lot of help as the Jayhawks went 5 for 20 from the 3-point arc, lowlighted by lousy performances from their two best sharpshooters.
Graham, coming off back-to-back 35-point outbursts, was held to three points on 1-for-8 shooting, while Svi Mykhailiuk was 3 for 12 from the field and scored eight points before fouling out.
“They took everybody away but Lagerald — ‘See if you can beat us,’” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I thought our defense was horrendous and our hustle plays weren’t very good either.”
In truth, the Jayhawks had little trouble getting Vick open shots in the middle of the zone. The problem came in that he was just 12 of 23 from the field, even though most of the shots were bunnies.
Throw in foul trouble that sent the Jayhawks’ two big men, Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot, to the bench well before halftime and it was no surprise the Huskies took a 36-34 lead into the break.
Washington kept the pressure on early in the second half, pushing its lead to 52-44 with 12:10 left in the game, before the Jayhawks finally turned up the defensive intensity. Vick got going again inside and Azubuike’s slam of an alley-oop pass trimmed their deficit to 53-52 with 9 1/2 minutes to go.
The Huskies calmed back down after a timeout, though, stretching their lead again. Thybulle got loose for a transition dunk, Dickerson added a slam of his own, and Hameir Wright’s 3-pointer from the wing made it 69-56 — their biggest lead to that point.
Even when the Jayhawks caught a break, like a technical foul on David Crisp in the closing minutes, they couldn’t capitalize. Graham missed both free throws with a chance to cut into a 73-59 deficit, and Mykhailiuk promptly missed a 3-point attempt as the Huskies put the game away.
“You could see this coming,” Self said. “When we’re energized and moving the ball and everybody is playing with energy, I think we’re a nice team. But when we’re not, we get average real quick.”
Blake’s 26 points lead Idaho past Washington State 91-64
MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Brayon Blake scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Victor Sanders added 19 points and Idaho blew out Washington State 91-64 on Wednesday night.
Blake scored nine straight points, starting a 16-2 run for the Vandals (6-2) and a 22-6 lead barely five minutes into the game. They hit 4 of 5 3-pointers to that point. They ended the first half with a 13-0 run that included three treys, two by Blake, for a 49-20 lead.
Blake scored 18 points in the first half on 7-of-11 shooting, including all four of his 3-pointers. The Vandals made 9 of 13 3-pointers and shot 51 percent (2o of 39) while the Cougars were at 39 percent (12 of 31), going 4 of 16 from distance.
The Cougars (6-2) used a 3-pointer from Carter Skaggs and a 3-point play by Robert Franks to get it to 14 on two occasions in the first three minutes of the second half but Sanders had a 3 and five points in a 7-0 run to push the lead to 21 with 15 minutes left and Washington State never challenged.
Perrion Callandret added 16 points with five rebounds and five assists for the Vandals.
Franks led the Cougars with 16 points.