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Kansas Jayhawks vs. Kent State Golden Flashes basketball final: Flashes couldn't keep up with their gritty first half

It was tight in the early going, but Kansas eventually pulled away in front of a packed Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

Kelly Oubre Jr. smiles while preparing to put up a shot over two Kent defenders.
Kelly Oubre Jr. smiles while preparing to put up a shot over two Kent defenders.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It was getting scrappy in Allen Fieldhouse and the Jayhawks were looking for something to swing the momentum firmly in their direction late in the first half.

And No. 13 Kansas got just what they were looking for when sophomore guard Frank Mason III found junior forward Perry Ellis for a monster alley-oop to put the Jayhawks up by four over Kent State.

The Golden Flashes never regained their composure after that, falling to No. 13 Kansas 78-62 on Tuesday night.

If one had peaked into ESPN3 at halftime and looked at the 39-33 scoreline, they would have undoubtedly been surprised by the resilience of Kent (8-4). And a look at the first half stats confirms the Golden Flashes' had an exciting first 20 minutes.

As both teams walked to the locker room, Kent was shooting 50 percent from the field, 4-of-10 from three, and had scored six points off turnovers. The only problem with the majority of those stats is that the Jayhawks (10-2) bettered them in the majority of those categories and a few more, including out-rebounding Kent by six, scoring 14 points off turnovers and scoring nine fast-break points.

The only category in which the Golden Flashes did lead was field-goal percentage, but Kansas fixed that in the second half. Freshman guard Kelly Oubre Jr. was a major factor in the first half, by scoring 16 points, but he only hit one more shot the entire game.

Therefore it was up to the rest of the team to pick up the slack and the Jayhawks acted accordingly by injecting freshman forward Cliff Alexander into the game and getting the big man some quality time in the paint.

Alexander was a dominant force in the middle, tallying eights points, four rebounds, two blocks and one steal. Kent redshirt-sophomore forward Jimmy Hall did a decent job of containing Alexander--and Ellis in the first half--but nothing was working for him in the second half.

Hall entered the second half with 12 points but only scored one more point all game. The other main contributor for the Golden Flashes was junior forward Khaliq Spicer, who had 11 points, but both of Kent's forwards were non-factors in the final 20 minutes.

It was a valiant effort by Kent but the Jayhawks depth and spacing ultimately sunk any chance of a Golden Flash come back by the middle of the second half.

The first half was plagued by turnovers and bad passes from both teams and while No. 13 Kansas fixed those problems after half-time, Kent didn't and that cost them the game.

The Golden Flashes have one more non-conference game, against Texas-Pan American, on Jan. 2 before starting MAC play against Bowling Green at home on Jan. 7.