LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)—Coaches whose teams shoot less than 30 percent usually don’t get the chance to crack a joke.
Arizona’s Lute Olson did.
The ninth-ranked Wildcats had that terrible night shooting and blew a 16-point lead yet beat Kansas 61-49 on Monday in the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
“We wanted to prove you can shoot that lousy and still play good defense,” Olson said. “We were just too impatient.”
Despite shooting 28.3 percent (17-for-60), the Wildcats (1-0) advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals against No. 3 Connecticut, which beat Arkansas 77-68.
Mustafa Shakur and Kirk Walters each had 13 points for Arizona with Walters’ total a career high for the junior forward. Walters, who was 4-for-6 from the field, and Mohamed Tangara, who hit his only shot of the game, were the only Wildcats to shoot better than 50 percent.
Hassan Adams had 10 points on 3-for-16 shooting, Chris Rodgers had 12 on 3-for-10 shooting and Ivan Radenovic was 1-for-9 and had two points.
“We need to get back to what we do best,” Walters said of playing with intensity. “We kind of got away from that.”
Sasha Kaun had 12 points for Kansas (1-1), which committed 27 turnovers and went 7:40 without a field goal in the second half after tying the game at 41-all with 11:33 to play.
“We took their best shot then pulled away at the end,” said Olson, who was upset with the way his team handled the ball in the final minutes.
“I called a timeout and asked `Are we ahead or behind?”’ he said. “The clock management was awful. I didn’t want to stop playing aggressively, but I didn’t want them to be stupidly aggressive and they were.”
Arizona looked like it was going to run away early, going up 20-4 over the opening eight minutes. But the Wildcats struggled with their shooting and Kansas slowly got back into the game.
After the Jayhawks tied at 41 on a jumper by Mario Chalmers, Arizona went on a 14-3 run capped by two free throws by Bret Brielmaier with 4:51 to play.
Freshman Brandon Rush dunked for Kansas to end its run of missing eight straight shots while Arizona retook control of the game.
“I was disappointed in how we played not how we lost because Arizona’s a great team,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I thought we might be nervous and then Arizona’s pressure set the tone early. Then we dug ourselves another hole we couldn’t climb out of.”
Self refused to single out any member of his young team.
“This was a total team effort. We didn’t perform the way we expected,” he said.
Rush had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Jayhawks, who shot 33.9 percent (19-for-56), including 4-for-19 from 3-point range.
“We tried to get after them and we got them to make some turnovers,” Shakur said.
The start couldn’t have been much worse for Kansas. Adams hit a 3-pointer with 11:53 left that gave the Wildcats a 20-4 lead. The Jayhawks were 2-for-9 from the field and had committed nine turnovers.
But Kansas finally started hitting some shots and took better care of the ball, cutting the lead to 28-23 on a layup by freshman Julian Wright with 2:44 to go. Arizona led 35-29 at halftime despite shooting just 28.6 percent (10-for-35), including 3-for-10 from 3-point range.
“We came out flat even though we were really hyped up,” said Kansas’ C.J. Giles, who had two points and 10 rebounds. “I guess we were shocked at their speed but we did come back to tie it. If we didn’t come out and play the way we did it would have been a lot different.”
Arizona is making its fourth appearance in the Maui Invitational and the Wildcats have reached the title game the previous three times, winning it all in 2000.
Kansas is also in its fourth tournament on Maui and the Jayhawks won it in 1996.