Kansas ends skid with rout of Kansas State
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas students arrived armed with signs that read “We Still Believe” and “We Shall Overcome,” imploring their Jayhawks to avoid their first four-game losing streak since before most of them were born.
This was unfamiliar territory for the 13th-ranked Jayhawks, whose season was at a crossroads following their first three-game losing streak since 2005. Equally unusual was that the opponent, 11th-ranked Kansas State, took the court at Allen Fieldhouse with a higher ranking and sole possession of first place in the Big 12, a league the Jayhawks have won eight straight seasons.
But Kansas made clear from opening tip-off that no one should count it out of this wildly unpredictable college basketball season. Five days after their worst first-half offensive performance of the season against lowly TCU, the Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) turned in one of their best efforts in a 83-62 rout before an emotionally charged crowd.
Shooting 58.6 percent in the first half, Kansas overwhelmed the Wildcats (19-5, 8-3) with hot shooting and highly efficient, aggressive play. Coach Bill Self’s team scored 47 points in the half against a team that had given up an average of 58.3 points a game this season.
Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore, the potential All-American who celebrated his 20th birthday Monday, made 5 of 6 field goal attempts in the half en route to 17 points by halftime.
The Jayhawks were glad to avoid their first four-game losing streak since dropping eight in a row in 1989, the last year they also lost back-to-back home games. They had been reeling after three consecutive losses to unranked teams – including TCU, which had an RPI of 236 – for the first time since 1988, the same year they wound up winning the national title.
With four senior starters and a freshman who ranks among the nation’s most talented players, there’s no reason to dash Kansas’ hopes in a wide-open national title race. But the Big 12, while not among the nation’s very best conferences, still features several capable, NCAA tournament-caliber teams that will complicate the league title race for Kansas.
Later this month, the Jayhawks, last … [For more on Kansas Jayhawks end skid with impressive rout of Kansas State Wildcats, click here.]