Unlike the Florida game, the No. 10 Kansas Jayhawks (7-1) weren’t down by 18 points at any time against Georgetown (5-3). But similar to the Florida game, Kansas made large runs to keep the lead out of reach for Georgetown.
Sophomore Brannen Greene, who scored a career-high 19 points, led the Jayhawks on two 7-0 runs in the second half. The last 7-0 started by Greene hitting his last two free throws — Greene was 4-for-4 from the line — put the game out of reach in the 75-70 Kansas victory in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night.
“I felt well since shootaround today,” Greene said. “I like the gym, like the arena so I played within the team.”
Greene was able to get hot in the second half by hitting four of his five made 3-pointers. The last Greene 3-pointer was the dagger as it put Kansas up 68-63 with a minute left in game, and Georgetown couldn’t respond.
“Wayne [Selden] drove to the middle and Landen [Lucas] set a big-time screen, it wasn’t even part of the play, and I found myself wide open, I took my time and knocked it down,” Greene said about his last 3-pointer. “I loved that three honestly, it was a big three for me.”
Kansas started the game hot by reaching out to a 7-2 run, and then an 8-0 run a few Georgetown baskets later to put Kansas ahead 22-11.
The 8-0 was started by none other than Greene with his first 3-pointer, and he said he was feeling the rhythm. He said the basket looked extra wide tonight for him.
“I just play my role,” Greene said. “It was my night, sometimes you see a big basket and that’s what I saw tonight.”
The 11-point lead halfway through the first half was the largest lead of the game, but that didn’t stop Georgetown from making a comeback. In the last three minutes of the first half, Georgetown went on an 11-0 run to give the Hoyas its first lead of the game. The Georgetown run was ignited by a variety of Hoyas.
“I think they are good,” Self said. “I think they have some nice pieces and I bet you they have end up having a nice year. [Georgetown] is well-coached and well drilled, and I’m sure Georgetown will be right in the middle in the Big East.”
The second half started similar to the first half — Kansas went on a 5-0 run led by sophomore guard Frank Mason, who was second on the team with 14 points and led the team with three assists.
A 7-0 run in the second half was anchored by Greene hitting 3-pointers in back-to-back possessions. The two 3-pointers came after Georgetown took its first lead of the second half, and Kansas responded with the run to help the Jayhawks back on top, 51-47, with ten minutes left.
“[Greene] did what he does,” Georgetown coach John Thompson said. “He’s a terrific shooter. I don’t think he did anything different from what he’s been doing. If he gets an open shot, it’s going to go in and we gave him too many open shots.”
Georgetown center Josh Smith, who had two blocks and scored a team-high 20 points, caused a lot of problems for Kansas, and was the reason the Hoyas kept the game close throughout the second half. The Kansas frontcourt couldn’t contain him and struggled to shoot over him.
“That was a big dude we played against,” freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. said.
Even though the Hoyas made a 7-0 run late in the second half, Georgetown wasn’t able to recapture the lead. But the Hoyas did tie the game at 61 with three minutes left in the game.
The tie didn’t last long. On the next two possessions, with Smith on the bench, Kansas went to the paint and convert on two layups by junior Perry Ellis and freshman Cliff Alexander. Ellis had his second double-double of the season, recording 13 points and 10 rebounds. Alexander played a season-high 26 minutes due to junior Landen Lucas' foul trouble.
Thompson put Smith back in, and Smith bullied Alexander down low for a hook shot to bring the Hoyas with two. It was the last of Brannen Greene 3-pointers that put the Jayhawks up five and out of reach for Georgetown.
“According to [Greene], if I let him play, he can do it every night,” Self said. “He seemed like he was focused of late. He’s a talented kid.”