Fouls by KSU's Michael Beasley (2) and Bill Walker in the first half
Fouls by KSU's Michael Beasley and Bill Walker in the second half
Points by which KU outscored K-State from 3-point range
Points by which K-State outscored KU in free throws
KU's 3-point percentage (11 for 23)
KU's 2-point shooting percentage (22 for 48)
Jayhawks who played, Jayhawks who recorded at least 1 steal
Points by KSU's Jacob Pullen in the last meeting, points Saturday
Revenge, payback - whatever you want to call it - certainly is sweet.
"Everybody was looking forward to this game since we lost at K-State. We didn't like what happened at K-State," Kansas University junior Brandon Rush declared after exploding for 21 points off 7-of-16 shooting (five of nine threes) in the Jayhawks' 88-74 victory over the Wildcats on Saturday at wild, crazy Allen Fieldhouse.
"Then this week they were talking again. We wanted to come out and prove a point," Rush added.
The Jayhawks definitely made up for their nine-point loss to KSU on Jan. 30 in Manhattan - a victory that was "guaranteed" by Wildcat freshman phenom Michael Beasley, who promised another victory Saturday.
Beasley wasn't half bad in scoring 39 points, tying for the fourth-best single-game scoring performance by a KU foe in fieldhouse history.
But Rush, Sherron Collins (18 points) and Russell Robinson (14) and others who accounted for 15 steals were sensational, too.
"I was aggressive tonight," Rush said. "They said Dominique Sutton shut me down in the second half the last time we played them. I didn't like hearing it. Tonight I think I proved a point. I played both halves."
Rush, who had just three of his 15 points in the second half of the loss in Manhattan, had 13 the first half Saturday in helping the Jayhawks roll to a 41-29 lead. He tallied eight the final half as KU had no letup and moved into a tie with Texas at 11-3 atop the Big 12 standings.
"It feels good to know we're tied. Now we're going to try to win it," Rush said.
Texas' loss at Texas Tech earlier in the day wasn't needed to provide the Jayhawks with motivation Saturday.
"To show you how geeked up our guys were today," coach Bill Self said of the Jayhawks, "at pregame (meal) we usually turn on the TV. We turned on the Texas game. I asked the guys if they wanted to watch it? They said, 'No.' They knew they'd burn up energy pulling for Texas Tech."
Of Rush, who admitted he did catch the end of the Texas loss in KU's players' lounge, Self said: "He was terrific offensively. He looked like a pro going up and shooting the ball. He was good from beyond the arc."
The Jayhawks took control of Saturday's game when Beasley left the court with his second foul just 2:05 into the game, with KU up, 7-4. By the time he returned at 13:05, KU led, 23-9.
Rush had 11 points and Darrell Arthur six, and the Wildcats kicked the ball away 11 times as the Jayhawks opened a 32-11 lead at 9:32.
Self cited the energy of both his team and the fans for the early surge.
"The crowd was great. That makes such a big difference," Self said. "We don't take our crowd for granted at all, but we don't get this type of energy in this building but a couple times a year. Now was a great time to have it."
Beasley did provide a scare by scoring 11 points in a 17-6 run that had the Cats within 10 (38-28) with 1:57 left in the half.
Up 41-29 at the break, the Jayhawks opened the second half on an 11-0 run to grab a 52-29 lead. Rush had three points, and Darnell Jackson, who played just three minutes the first half because of foul woes, had six, including one on a slam on an offensive rebound and another off a lob from Robinson.
KSU did cut the gap to 13 at one point the second half, but the decision was never in doubt, even with Beasley putting up 39, scoring some points against man to man, some against a 1-2-2 zone and some against a box-and-one defense that Self said was "terrible."
"Hands down he is the best player in the country," Self said.
KU, however, had the last laugh on the player who said he'd play and beat the Jayhawks in Manhattan, Lawrence, even Africa.
"Africa, Africa," the fans chanted at Beasley and the 'Cats in the final minutes.
"You heard the fans chanting. Nobody on our team is going to Africa to play him," Darnell Jackson said. "It wasn't about beating him. We laid an egg against them there. We wanted to win tonight. Now we want to take care of business in the league."
Of course, KU still could meet up with Beasley in the Big 12 tournament. If not there?
"Where in Africa does he want to play?" senior Robinson said. "That might make a difference. Nah : he's a great player and a great guy."
Next game is Monday's Senior Night contest against Texas Tech, set for an 8 p.m. tipoff on ESPN Big Monday.