Jayhawks relish busy slate

KU 1-1, URI 0-2 against common opponents

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Two games in three nights is not too many for Kansas University's basketball players.

"It's always good to play games. It gets you ready for league play when things get pretty busy," said KU junior guard Russell Robinson, eager to step on the court for today's nonconference clash against Rhode Island.

Tip for the matchup between the No. 9-rated Jayhawks (11-2) and unranked Rams (7-6) is 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse with a live telecast on channels 27 and 38 and replay at 10:30 p.m. on Cable Channel Six.

"We need to get in the mindset we have to come to play hard every game. The goal is to come out with enthusiasm, to be focused, and if we get a team down play harder, be focused the entire game."

He and his teammates were not impressed with the Jayhawks' lack of killer instinct in a 63-43 victory over Detroit Mercy on Thursday night.

KU, which was up 16-3 early, led by just four with nine minutes to play.

"It was one of those days you come in here and want to get the game over quick. I don't know why. It's what I thought," KU sophomore Brandon Rush said after scoring nine points and playing tough defense against the Titans despite feeling the effects of the flu.

"I think it's important to be real consistent every time you step on the floor. Whoever we play, lower or bigger competition, you have to be ready to play," Rush added.

The Jayhawks have admitted to not being 100 percent focused in a home loss to Oral Roberts, road setback versus DePaul as well as not-so-impressive victories over Ball State, Toledo and Detroit.

"We will not play great all the time. It's been pretty evident this year," KU coach Bill Self said. "We did that last year, too, but if the other team doesn't score you will not lose too many games."

KU's defense, which held down Detroit, tonight faces a team that averages 78.7 points a game and allows 79.5.

The two teams have a pair of common opponents. DePaul defeated KU, 64-57, on Dec. 2 in Chicago and stopped the Rams, 89-81, 14 days later in Kingston, R.I. Boston College defeated the Rams, 86-68, on Nov. 25 in Boston but fell to the Jayhawks, 84-66, last Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

Rhode Island has defeated Stonehill, Alaska-Fairbanks, Centenary, Iona, Brown, Utah and Boston University and also lost to Houston, Troy, Providence and Ohio.

The Rams' last game was a 97-69 loss to Ohio on Wednesday in Athens, Ohio. It marked the fourth time in six games the Rams allowed an opponent to score more than 80 points.

"There's not much to say. Our defense was not good at all," guard Jimmy Baron, son of R.I. head coach Jim Baron, told the Providence Journal.

The Rams fell behind, 22-5, in playing their first road game in over three weeks.

"One of our biggest challenges has been on the road with some many young and inexperienced guys," said coach Baron, whose squad has won at Alaska-Fairbanks and lost at Ohio, BC and Providence.