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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Kansas 73, Saint Louis 59

By Jason King

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A quick look at Kansas' 73-59 victory over Saint Louis in the championship game of the CBE Classic at the Sprint Center.

Overview: Five games into the season, it's still tough to get a read on the Kansas basketball team. It's certainly not the Jayhawks' fault. They played admirably in a 67-64 loss to Michigan State, but other than that, Bill Self's squad hasn't exactly faced top-notch competition.

That was certainly the case Tuesday at the Sprint Center. One night after beating Pac-12 bottom-feeder Washington State by 37 points, 12th-ranked Kansas cruised to an easy victory against an overmatched Saint Louis squad that's trying to adapt to life without its coach (Rick Majerus) and top player (injured guard Kwamain Mitchell).

Turning point: Kansas used a 21-6 scoring run early in the first half to blow the game open. Travis Releford scored 17 points during the march, which gave the Jayhawks a 28-10 lead and momentum they would never relinquish.

Key player: Releford earned tournament MVP honors. The Kansas City native finished with a game-high 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Twenty-one of Releford's points came in the decisive first half. Releford also performed well against Washington State on Monday, when he led KU with 17 points.

Key stat: Kansas center Jeff Withey is picking up where he left off last season in terms of blocked shots. Withey is averaging 6.0 blocks in his past three games. He swatted seven shots Tuesday. Withey likely would've been named tournament MVP if the ballots weren't picked up with 10 minutes remaining, as Withey closed the game in dominating fashion.

Miscellaneous: Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson continues to struggle. Johnson had only eight points against Washington State and finished with just five on Tuesday. There is obviously a tremendous amount of pressure on Johnson, who moved from shooting guard to point guard to replace graduated senior Tyshawn Taylor. … Cody Ellis had 19 points for Saint Louis but missed 14 of his 20 field-goal attempts. … Along with Most Outstanding Performer Releford, these players were named to the CBE Classic all-tournament team: Withey, KU's Ben McLemore, Saint Louis' Dwayne Evans and Texas A&M's Elston Turner, who hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds remaining to give the Aggies a 55-54 victory over Washington State in the third-place game.

Up next: Saint Louis hosts Southern Illinois on Saturday. Kansas hosts San Jose State on Monday.