Kansas Wins Maui Invitational With Strong Second-half Rally
By MauiNow Staff
The Kansas Jayhawks battled back from a first-half deficit to defeat Vanderbilt and win the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational, 70-63. It was the Jayhawks’ second title all-time, having won the championship in 1996.
Wednesday’s championship game at the sold-out 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic Center capped the three-day pre-Thanksgiving tournament on the Valley Isle.
Vanderbilt, ranked 17th in the nation, hit the floor running and jumped out to an early 10-point lead on a jumper by sophomore Wade Baldwin at the 11:17 mark. Baldwin shot 5-for-12 on the night for 11 points and was one of three Commodores who scored in double figures. Leading the way was junior Damian Jones with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Luke Kornet added 14 points.
“It was a great win for us against a terrific opponent. Kevin obviously had his guys ready, and they were far better than us early on in the game”, said Kansas Head Coach Bill Self. “I was so impressed with their team. We’re fortunate they missed some shots, but we also defended them very well.”
The Maui title is the second for Kansas, which won it in 1996 behind Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce. Vanderbilt is a one-time Maui champion (1986).
After heading into halftime down by four (30-26), Kansas got off to a quick start in the second half. At 18:52, junior Landen Lucas hit an open layup that tied the game at 31 and just under two minutes later a free throw by junior Wayne Selden Jr. put the Jayhawks on top for good. Kansas pushed its lead to as high as 13 and ended up winning by seven. With the loss the Commodores suffered their first defeat of the season and fell to 5-1.
Selden led all scorers with 25 points and chipped in seven rebounds. He was an impressive 8-of-11 from the field and 4-for-6 from three point range. Seldon was the Co-Most Valuable Player of the tournament along with teammate Frank Mason III. Mason scored 10 points on the night and added a game-high three assists.
“Wayne was absolutely fabulous in the first half when we had nothing going on”‘ said Coach Self. “He kept us in the game by making, I think, three threes that were guarded and basically kept us within striking distance.”
As a team Kansas shot 45.5 percent (25-of-55) from the field and 50 percent (8-for-16) from beyond the arc. The Jayhawks also finished with a 39-32 advantage at the glass. Vanderbilt shot 41.1 percent (23-of-56) overall and 73.3 percent (11-for-15) from the free throw line.
Going into Wednesday’s final of the eight-team tournament, Vanderbilt hadn’t lost this season behind its two starting 7-footers and a host of accurate 3-point shooters. But the Jayhawks managed to contain the big men and the Commodores’ shooters struggled to 6-for-27 shooting (22.2 percent) beyond the arc.
Kansas got a boost before Wednesday’s final when the NCAA announced touted Jayhawks recruit Cheick Diallo will be eligible on Dec. 1.
With three victories this week, Kansas is now 13-6 all-time in the Maui Invitational, while Vanderbilt moved its tournament record to 10-5.
THIRD PLACE: WAKE FOREST 80, UCLA 77
In a game that was otherwise statistically even offensively, Wake Forest used its decided advantage from the free throw line to upend UCLA 80-77. The Demon Deacons went to the free throw line 42 times (30-for-42) compared to 14 trips (8-of-14) for the Bruins. As a team, UCLA out shot Wake Forest 47 percent to 40 percent and outrebounded its opponent, 45-37.
Both teams finished with four players hitting double digits in scoring. Senior Devin Thomas led the Demon Deacons with 21 points and added a team-high nine rebounds.
For the Bruins, senior Tony Parker had a double-double on the day. He knocked down 18 points and dominated the glass with 15 rebounds. Junior Isaac Hamilton also scored 18 for UCLA.
The win raised Wake Forest’s record to 4-2 overall. Its two victories led to a 3rd place finish in the Tournament. UCLA is now 3-3 overall and was 1-2 in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational for a 4th place result.
FIFTH PLACE: UNLV 72, INDIANA 69
Indiana missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer and was upset by an inspired UNLV squad 72-69 Tuesday in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Rebels came out running from the start building a lead of as many as 15 points in the first half. The Hoosiers fought back and tied the score 46-46 five minutes into the second half. Indiana could not, however, get over the hump to take a lead at any point in the game.
UNLV Sophomore Patrick McCaw led all scorers with 20 points and tied for the team lead in assists with six. Senior Ike Nwamu and junior Ben Carter each added 16 points to the cause.
The Hoosiers were led by senior Nick Zeisloft with 17 points and sophomore James Blackmon Jr., who contributed 13 points and led the team with seven boards.
With the win UNLV improved to 5-1 on the season and Indiana fell to 4-2.
SEVENTH PLACE: ST. JOHN’S 100, CHAMINADE 93
Seven players took the floor for St. John’s Wednesday with six scoring in double digits. Chaminade made a number of runs and had a record-breaking performance, yet in the end fell short, 100-93. St. John’s freshman Federico Mussini scored a game and career-high 24 points and also led the Red Storm with six assists.
Chaminade junior Kiran Shastri hit 7-of-13 shots and was 5-for-10 from 3-point range to lead the Silverswords with 19 points. He set the school record for 3-pointers in a career.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field while St. John’s (4-2) was able to hit 20 (20-of-27) free throws to just 12 (12-for-20) for Chaminade (0-5).