LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Last year, Wayne Selden Jr. might have let a lousy shooting performance in Kansas’s previous game affect his confidence in a high-profile matchup with Florida on Friday night.
That’s the difference between being a freshman and a sophomore.
Selden poured in 21 points and keyed a massive second-half run, allowing the No. 11 Jayhawks to overcome an 18-point deficit and beat the Gators 71-65 inside boisterous Allen Fieldhouse.
“You’re not going to make them every night,” said Selden, who was 0 for 10 from the field last Sunday against Michigan State. “You just have to stay persistent.”
Cliff Alexander and Frank Mason III had 12 points apiece, and Perry Ellis finished with 10 for the Jayhawks (6-1), who trailed 39-24 at halftime before using a 17-0 surge to seize control.
Kansas wound up outscoring the Gators 47-26 in the second half.
“It was a terrible start and our best players were not very good at all in the first half,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “The roles reversed in the second half.”
Devin Robinson scored 13 points and Chris Walker had 12 for Florida, which is off to its worst start through seven games since it also started 3-4 during the 1990-91 season.
“You have to credit them. They had a lot of fight,” the Gators’ Jon Horford said. “I felt like we let them speed us up a little bit, take us out of the flow we had in the first half.”
The Gators once again played without the calming influence of guard Eli Carter, who has been hobbled by a sprained left foot. He hurt it during practice Nov. 20 and had struggled in two of the four games he had played, causing coach Billy Donovan to rest him Friday night.
“It’s been hard the last week just because we’ve had limited numbers in practice,” Donovan said. “It was good to see Devin Robinson respond like he did. I thought he was a bright spot.”
The Jayhawks led 14-10 as the game approached the midway point of the first half, but a slew of turnovers and some frigid shooting allowed Florida to pull into the lead.
Robinson scored four quick points, Dorian Finney-Smith contributed the next five and Michael Frazier popped a shot-clock-beating 3-pointer to cap a 19-3 assault. By the time Ellis scored in the paint, the Gators had successfully set the tempo of the game.
They continued to pull away, pushing their run to 25-4 on Robinson’s 3-pointer late in the first half, silencing what had been a roaring crowd inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Even the introduction of new football coach David Beaty, who had been hired away from Texas A&M earlier in the day, did little to energize the stunned fans at halftime.
The Gators kept everyone quiet early in the second half, too, extending their lead to 45-27 on back-to-back baskets by Frazier and Robinson for their biggest lead of the game.
It was at that point that Kansas began chipping away.
Turning up the pressure with some full-court defense, the Jayhawks began producing turnovers of their own, often turning them into easy layups at the other end. And when Alexander came in off the bench, the bruising freshman gave them the interior muscle they’d been lacking.
Kansas knotted the game 52-all on a free throw by Ellis with 6:18 left, part of their 17-0 second-half run. Selden had six points during the charge, including a pair of silky jumpers, and Ellis’s basket with 3:17 remaining gave the Jayhawks a 60-52 lead.
By that point, the Gators were in the bonus and Kansas began a parade to the free-throw line, putting the game away by making 11 consecutive foul shots in the final couple minutes.
“There’s no six- or eight-point plays. Just try to win each 4 minutes,” Self said. “Once the crowd got into it, we played with so much more energy.”
Florida: The Gators shot 53.6 percent in the first half. They shot 34.5 percent in the second half. … Florida was outrebounded 24-9 in the second half.
Kansas: The Jayhawks had more turnovers (9) than field goals (8) in the first half. They had only five turnovers in the second half. … Kansas shot 48 percent in the second half.
BEWARE THE PHOG
There’s a reason Self has only lost nine games at Allen Fieldhouse. When the crowd gets amped up like it was during the Jayhawks’ second-half run, it can be nearly impossible for opposing teams to communicate. “I think the crowd really helped them out,” Walker said.
QUOTABLE: “It was just like Jekyll-and-Hyde the first half and second,” Self said.
Florida: Hosts Yale on Monday night.
Kansas: At Georgetown on Wednesday night.
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