Manhattan Bill Self didn't give a stirring speech to inspire his Kansas University basketball players before Saturday's KU-Kansas State game at Bramlage Coliseum.
"Didn't need to," said Self, who, this deep into the season, realizes he's coaching an ultra-competitive group - one that knew it needed a victory to assure at least a tie for the conference title.
He broke into a big grin when asked what he did tell the Jayhawks before a rousing 66-52 victory.
"I said, 'The most important thing today is 'Jank' is going home, and we gotta win for him. We can win a title. We can get a ring. We can keep a streak alive, do all those things, but you really know why we need to play well? Tim is going home,'" Self said.
He was referring to assistant coach Tim Jankovich, a former KSU standout who graduated in 1982.
Did the players laugh at Self's oratory?
"Yeah," the coach said with a grin.
Inspired for whatever reasons, the Jayhawks played well defensively once again, holding the Wildcats to 37.5 percent shooting and star player Cartier Martin to 17 points off 5-of-12 marksmanship.
Things were spotty at times on offense. Brandon Rush (career-high-tying 24 points), Mario Chalmers (14, all in the first half) and Russell Robinson (11) were the only Jayhawks in double figures.
The outcome avenged a January loss to the Wildcats in Lawrence and extended KU's winning streak in Manhattan to 23.
"There was a lot of pressure today," Robinson said. "They beat us the last time. We were trying to redeem ourselves with the fans and trying to win the Big 12 regular-season title, keep the streak going. We handled the pressure well."
Thanks in large part to Chalmers, who kept KU in command early with 14 points as the Jayhawks led, 39-24, at the break.
"I was fired up. I felt comfortable at the shootaround," said Chalmers, who hit three of four threes the first half. "I was able to connect on a few."
"We didn't run good offense, but Mario hit some open shots. He was a catalyst," Robinson said.
Self said he had a good time Saturday, joking with the team about 'Jank' in the pregame and dancing with the players in a happy locker room afterward.
"I think joy and a little relief, too," Self said, asked how he felt. "It's been a pretty long grind. It's been fun."