No. 4 Kansas takes on BYU in Maui Invitational semis

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Fourth-ranked Kansas carries a four-game winning streak into its semifinal matchup against BYU in the Maui Invitational on Tuesday night.

The Jayhawks (4-1) rolled to a 93-63 win Monday over Division II Chaminade. Since dropping the season opener to current No. 1 Duke, the Jayhawks have cruised by double-digit-point margins through all four of their victories.

Iowa grad transfer Isaiah Moss missed the Duke game. He has added some perimeter scoring pop since joining the lineup, including knocking down 3 of 4 3-point attempts against Chaminade.

“I actually thought he looked the quickest he’s looked since he pulled his hamstring,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “To me, the best play was when he ran down the loose ball because he kind of had to stretch out to do that, and that should give him some confidence as well.”

Devon Dotson came into the Maui Invitational setting the scoring pace for Kansas at 18.8 points per game, and he continued on that track with 19 points vs. the Silverswords.

“It’s my first time in Hawaii, so I’m excited,” Dotson said in his press conference ahead of the Maui Invitational. “Back-to-back-to-back games, I haven’t done that since junior year of high school.”

The quick turnaround time makes for a unique and challenging environment, as well as some unpredictability. An anticipated potential championship matchup between the No. 4 Jayhawks and No. 3 Michigan State was wiped out earlier Monday when the Spartans lost to Virginia Tech.

Likewise, a meeting of historic blue-blood programs Kansas and UCLA was in the cards for Tuesday’s semifinal — but that was before BYU intervened.

The Cougars (4-2) caught fire from 3-point range late to finish 9 of 18, and they used a second-half surge to rout UCLA 78-63 in the Monday nightcap.

Jake Toolson, BYU’s leading scorer coming into the tournament, contributed 20 points in the win.

The electric performance in the final nine minutes against UCLA started BYU on the right foot in what Cougars coach Mark Pope called an important barometer for the team.

“We have a lot of work to do, and these games (at the Maui Invitational) give us the opportunity to try to figure out who we’re trying to become,” Pope said in his press conference following a 72-68 overtime loss at Boise State on Wednesday.

BYU opened its season ahead of this week’s tournament playing decidedly up and down. The Cougars went 3-2 with losses to San Diego State and Boise State, a one-point win over a Houston team that reached the Sweet 16 last March, and another tight win against Southern Utah.

The final stretch against UCLA was the most complete BYU performance thus far in 2019-20, particularly on the offensive end. TJ Haws came alive in the second half, scoring 12 of his 15 points on the night and controlling the tempo with his ball-handling.

BYU will have to neutralize Kansas big men Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack on the interior, particularly on the glass. The Cougars gave up 14 offensive rebounds to UCLA, and the duo of Azubuike and McCormack enter Tuesday ranked No. 237 and No. 19 in offensive rebounding percentage, per advanced metrics.

–Field Level Media

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