Keaton Belcher, one of two seniors on Belmont’s basketball team, knew exactly what advice he wanted to impart to his younger teammates prior to Tuesday’s matchup against top-ranked Kansas at famed Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
“I would just tell them that when they go on a big run, just stay calm and stay positive,” Belcher said on Sunday. “They’re obviously going to have a huge run because they’re the No. 1 team in the nation.”
It did not take long to prove him right – on both counts. Kansas scored the first 11 points, but Belmont responded and led briefly.
Ultimately, though, the Bruins could not keep pace and were defeated 81-51.
It was a 16-2 run by the Jayhawks (12-0) at the start of the second half that finally put the game out of reach. Belmont (7-5), which trailed by 10 at intermission, got no closer than 21 the rest of the way.
Jordan Campbell’s 3-pointer with 9:47 to play in the first half gave the Bruins their only lead, 15-14.
That, after it took more than five minutes for them to get on the scoreboard. Drew Hanlen’s 3-pointer with 14:51 to go in the first half started the surge. Ian Clark and Campbell capped it with 3-pointers 1:15 apart.
Belmont made just eight of 27 (29.6 percent) 3-pointers but held Kansas to six of 17 (35.3 percent).
The Bruins were within three, 29-26, on Mick Hedgepeth’s layup with 2:33 to go before halftime but were outscored 7-0 the rest of the way.
Clark, a freshman, and Hanlen each had a team-high 11 points. Hedgepeth added seven.
Kansas got a game-high 14 points from Marcus Morris, and 11 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots by Cole Aldrich.