By Matt Tait --- firstname.lastname@example.org
When Kansas and Texas Tech locked horns in Lubbock, Texas, earlier this month, it took a last-second shot by Andrew Wiggins to hold off the scrappy Red Raiders, who took KU out of its offensive flow and made things difficult for the Jayhawks from start to finish.
No such heroics were needed Wednesday night in the final home game for Kansas seniors Tarik Black, Niko Roberts and Justin Wesley, as the Jayhawks (23-7 overall, 14-3 Big 12) ran away from the Red Raiders midway through the first half and never looked back during a 82-57 victory at Allen Fieldhouse, capped by a Senior Night post-game ceremony that included all 10 Big 12 championship trophies KU has won in the past decade.
In that one, the Jayhawks won with just 64 points. In this one, KU surpassed 64 points with 10:58 remaining in the game.
Black, Roberts and Wesley all started the game, along with Wiggins and Wayne Selden, and each was able to play a good chunk of minutes in the second half with the game well in hand.
Roberts scored a point on 1-of-2 free throw shooting and missed his only two shots from the floor. Wesley was 0-for-3, but snagged one block in 9 minutes.
Black, meanwhile, was a monster, finishing with 19 points and 6 rebounds in place of the injured Joel Embiid, who did not suit up for this one and will not play in the regular-season finale on Saturday.
With this marking the final game at Allen Fieldhouse this season, it's also worth noting that it likely was the final time that KU fans would get to watch Wiggins play in Lawrence. The freshman forward finished with 9 points and his standard output of two or three highlights.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the Senior Night action:
• The game turned when: The Jayhawks ripped off a 17-3 run in a five-minute span late in the first half that turned an 18-12 lead into a 35-15 cushion. Perry Ellis scored six points during the run, on a three-pointer and three free throws, and Black added five points via an alley-oop finish on a pass from Naadir Tharpe and an old-fashioned three-point play at the 8:13 mark.
• Offensive highlight: We've been doing this for a bunch of games and seasons in a row now and I can't remember a time when either of the highlights came on the game's first possession. It happened tonight, when Wiggins flushed a miss by Selden at the 19:26 mark of the first half to put KU up 2-0. Credit Selden for the hustle play to keep the possession alive, but Wiggins gets the credit for getting KU's offense into a attack-mode early by rising above the rim to put Kansas on the board.
• Defensive highlight: Just a couple of minutes after checking in to replace one-time senior starter Roberts, junior point guard Tharpe made his presence felt in a hurry. First, he drained a three-pointer from the corner to put KU up 9-5. Thirteen seconds later, near mid-court, Tharpe picked the pocket of Texas Tech guard Randy Onwuasor and sprinted the other way for a layup and a foul. The much-maligned point guard buried the free throw that put KU up 12-5 and dropped in six points in 13 seconds. Tharpe's defensive intensity in the first half was at a higher level than it had been for most of the season. Honorable mention has to go to two different plays from two very different players. The first came eight seconds after Tharpe's steal when Black swatted the daylights out of a shot by Tech's Robert Turner. Then, with 25 seconds to play in the first half, Conner Frankamp, yes that Conner Frankamp, picked up his first blocked shot of the season.
• Key stat: How about some more credit for KU's defense, which held Texas Tech to 21 percent shooting in the first half while taking control of the game. The Red Raiders made just 5 of 24 shots in the first half and finished with a 35-percent mark for the game. Tech entered the game shooting 46 percent on the season.
• Up next: The Jayhawks will close out the 2013-14 regular season at 11 a.m. Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va., where they will look to sweep the season series with the Mountaineers. KU clubbed Bob Huggins' squad 83-69 Feb. 8 in Lawrence, behind 19 points from Andrew Wiggins.