What is it in this series?
Kansas wins for the 46th time in the last 49 meetings with the ‘Cats who, for all their well-earned toughness, seem to dribble down their….chins-- a lot more than they do the floor when they’re facing the Jayhawks.
How did it happen?
Kansas, coming off what Bill Self called one of his team’s best recent practices, shot 59 percent in the opening half against a usually stingy defense. The 47 points they scored in the opening 20 minutes was KU’s most in a conference half this season. The ‘Hawks did a good job feeding the monster, Ben McLemore responded with 30 points on his 20th birthday. Beyond that, Kansas outscored them by 18 in the paint and by the same margin on the glass. 14 offensive rebounds from KU resulted in 19 second chance points; KSU managed only two of those.
Who needs depth?
Between them, KU and K-States benches scored all of 12 points last night. Coming in one might have thought that Kansas State had an advantage with depth—really? 4 points, 8 rebounds, 9 fouls 1 assist, 3 turnovers---yikes. In all fairness, K-State got down so quickly that depth really didn’t come into play last night---good thing.
Do the double-take---
With the win KU has won at least 20 games in 24 straight seasons. That is an unbelievable streak. The only time in the last 31 years they didn’t win 20 was in Roy Williams first season, when he was dealing with probation left over from Larry Brown. Then how about this one; Kansas has now won eight straight at home against higher ranked teams. Ok, the ‘Hawks are usually ranked themselves, in fact they were for all eight of those games, but that’s pretty impressive stuff and it speaks to their incredible home court advantage.
With his 30 points, Ben McLemore joins Danny Manning (who was in attendance) as the only Jayhawk freshman with two 30 point conference games. I’m just glad he finally took the team’s most shots. He’s not always going to shoot like he did last night, especially from three where he hit 6-10, but he remains KU’s best scoring option. Meanwhile, with five, Jeff Withey becomes the most prolific and best shot blocker in Jayhawk history.
Pride of a champion---
Like heart, it’s hard to measure. Don’t think that those young men at KU aren’t aware of the history in that building they’re privileged to compete in. There’s an expectation at Kansas that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else in the Big 12. Not the expectations of fans mind you—I loved the way that Roy Williams used to rail against them (the expectations not the fans)—but the program itself. No one expects more of themselves than the coaches and the players within it, for someone to come in and take what they’ve owned for so long---they’d better bring a pretty big stick. On Monday night all K-State had was a twig.