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Tuesday, February 7, 2006

KU leads great divide

Jayhawks Big 12's biggest draw; Buffaloes last

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— Nobody in the Big 12 Conference draws fans like Kansas University's Jayhawks, who have a perpetual sellout of 16,300 each and every men's basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse.

The league, however, has had some problems attracting spectators at the other 11 schools.

Besides KU, just four other programs are averaging more than 11,000 fans: Texas, which is averaging 12,746, Iowa State (11,813), Oklahoma (11,676) and Oklahoma State (11,580).

On the other side of the coin are the sad crowds that rattle around in lonely gyms at such places as Colorado, Baylor and Texas Tech.

"Colorado has a better team than it's had in years, and I think they are drawing better than they were earlier," said Kansas coach Bill Self, the owner of the league's most consistently supportive fan base.

So why are only about 7,000 showing up each night to see Bob Knight's Texas Tech team?

"You've got a guy chasing the all-time win record, and you'd think you'd want to be there to say you were a part of it," said Self.

One problem may be what fans are looking for.

"They not only expect you to win, they expect to be entertained," Self said. "If they're not entertained, they don't come back so much. I think that's sad. It's across America, not only in our league."

Nebraska's average attendance is 8,889, but nobody else in the league is averaging more than about 8,000.

Colorado, which is challenging for an NCAA bid and has one of the league's most sensational players in Richard Roby, is averaging a shade under 4,000, although the crowds have been getting better.

The Buffs still have not sold out the 11,064-capacity Coors Events Center. Nevertheless, coach Ricardo Patton is grateful for the recent increase in interest.

"If you're averaging five or six (thousand) and wind up with eight (thousand), that's certainly moving in the right direction," Patton said. "At this point, we don't have any complaints about the crowds we've had in the last few games. Can it be better? Certainly. But it's been awfully good based on where we started."

Self certainly is appreciative of KU's large crowds.

"The most special thing about Allen Fieldhouse is the people there," Self said. "Regardless of whether you play Northern Colorado or Oklahoma, you'll have a full house each and every night, even over Christmas break. : Our fans are unbelievable with their attendance."

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