Jayhawks celebrated things getting back to normal.
After struggling thru their longest losing streak in 8 years, a maddening 3-game skid, the 14th-ranked Jayhawks returned to the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse and took out all their pent up frustration on in-state rival Kansas State.
Ben McLemore, serenaded by the raucous crowd, scored 30 points. Withey had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks to break Greg Ostertag’s school record for career rejections. And the high-flying Jayhawks got back to their winning strategies with an 83-62 rout of the 10th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, forging a tie with them for first place in the Big 12.
“We just played as a team tonight,” Withey claimed. “We played Kansas basketball.”
Played it for the first time in a while.
The Jayhawks had lost 3 straight for the 1st time since February 2005, a stretch that included a loss to TCU, which still hasn’t defeated anyone else in conference play. Their offense had been abysmal, their defense not very much better, and fans were starting to worry.
This one ought to set them at ease.
The Jayhawks used two large runs in the first half to take a 47-29 lead at the break, and then frustrated each rally the vet Wildcats attempted to muster down the stretch.
The result has become predictable: Kansas won for the 11th time in 12 games between the schools, and for the 46th time in their last 49 conferences, prompting the student section to chant “This is our state!” once more in the closing minutes.
Rodney McGruder had 20 points and Angel Rodriguez added 17 for the Wildcats. But they never appeared to be in the game, despite riding a 4-game lucky run and coming into one of college basketball’s best locales as the higher ranked team for the 1st time since February 20, 1982.
They were outrebounded 41-23. They observed Kansas outscore them 19-2 on second-chance baskets. They were controlled in the paint, 34-16. NFL betting lines
Most of the Jayhawks’ struggles the previous 2 weeks have centered on their offense, which had produced just 13 points in the initial half of that embarrassing loss to TCU last Wednesday night.
That wasn’t much of an issue against the Wildcats.
McLemore was 9 of 13 from the field and 6 of 10 from 3. Kevin Young had 13 points, Travis Releford added 10, and Naadir Tharpe had 7 points with 8 assists and only 1 turnover.
Then there had been Withey, whose 263 blocks not only broke Ostertag’s school record but drew him within one of the Big 12 record, held by Chris Mihm of Texas.
“I’m not satisfied, obviously,” Withey expounded. “I wish to break the conference record.”
He’ll have plenty more chances as the Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) pursue their 9th straight Big 12 championship, a title the Wildcats (19-5, 8-3) are also eyeing.
“I told them if we win the rest of our games, we win our league,” Weber claimed. “It’ll be troublesome, but at the same time, that’s how we have got to approach it.”