Kansas rebounds against Penn LaFrentz's 25 pace No. 3 Jayhawks, 89-71

December 09, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Raef La Frentz scored 25 points and Billy Thomas scored 15 last night, leading Kansas to an 89-71 victory over Pennsylvania in the consolation game of the Franklin National Bank Classic at the MCI Center.

The win allowed the third-ranked Jayhawks to leave the nation's capital with a better taste in their mouth, bouncing back from Sunday's upset loss to Maryland.

"We were very disappointed not to be playing in the championship game and somewhat embarrassed," said LaFrentz. "It's not the most fun situation to play in, but it was something we had to do, and we wanted to come out and make a good showing in the consolation game."

For the second night in a row, Garrett Kreitz kept Penn competitive with his long-range shooting, scoring 17.

But the Jayhawks (8-1) found the range in the second half and built a lead as large as 24, after benefiting from their size advantage in the first half.

After yielding the game's first two points to Penn's Michael Jordan, Kansas' frontcourt players, LaFrentz, Paul Pierce, T. J. Pugh and Eric Chenowith, got easy baskets on a consistent basis as the team took a 37-29 halftime lead.

When the Jayhawks took a 32-27 lead on LaFrentz's turnaround jumper with 3: 19 left in the first half, all but two of their points had come from inside.

Penn remained close in the first half, as Jordan drove toward the HTC basket, then dished the ball to open teammates for mid-range jump shots. After trailing 28-17 with 8: 51 to go, Penn narrowed the margin to 30-27 with 3: 52 left, thanks to three-pointers by Kreitz and Jed Ryan and another long-range shot by Paul Romanczuk.

But Penn, which had coped with Kansas' inside dominance, was staggered by outside shooting from Thomas and the rest of the Jayhawks, who hit six of their eight three-point attempts.

Thomas, who went 1-for-12 Sunday and missed his first three shots in the first half, gave Kansas a 37-29 lead with 37.2 seconds left and hit four more in the second half.

"I'm never going to stop shooting. So after last night, I put that behind me," said Thomas, who was given the go-ahead by coach Roy Williams. "He said if I miss 15 in a row, he's still going to stick with me, as long I'm doing other things to help the team win."

Pierce and Pugh also scored in double figures for Kansas with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Jordan and Matt Langel scored 12 and 11 points for Penn, respectively.

Pub Date: 12/09/97

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