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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Talking toughness: Jayhawks say they’re ready to grind it out with rival KSU

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson pulls back for a dunk off a breakaway against North Dakota during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson pulls back for a dunk off a breakaway against North Dakota during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Bill Self weekly press conference: Jan. 3, 2012

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Kansas head men's basketball coach Bill Self addressed the media at his weekly press conference Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Battle of the boards: Elijah Johnson, Thomas Robinson set for KSU

Kansas players Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson discussed preparing for Wednesday's game against Kansas State after practice Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Elijah Johnson hits trick shot after practice

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson had some fun after practice Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University junior power forward Thomas Robinson has watched Kansas State’s basketball team on television this season ... and also studied the Wildcats in person.

He and teammates Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford were among the 16,685 fans who witnessed the Cats’ 71-58 victory over Alabama on Dec. 17 in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.

Releford’s brother, Trevor, starts at point guard for the Crimson Tide.

“I feel like they’re playing like they have something to prove, which is all good,” Robinson said of the Wildcats, who take a 11-1 record into Wednesday’s Big 12 conference opener against 10-3 KU.

Tip is 7 p.m., in Allen Fieldhouse.

“They are a tough team. I have respect for them. At the same time I want to beat them. We’ll see (Wednesday),” Robinson added.

The Wildcats enter with a No. 23 national ranking in their first year without standout guard Jacob Pullen, who is now playing for Angelico Biella in Italy.

“They’re more dangerous. They’re not dependent on one person scoring for them. Now it’s more of an equal opportunity thing,” Robinson said, noting he left Sprint Center especially impressed with Thomas Gipson (7.1 rebounds per game), Jamar Samuels (7.2 rpg) and Jordan Henriquez (5.7 rpg). “It’s easier to stop one player than 11.”

The Wildcats once again seem to have taken on the personality of fiery coach Frank Martin. KSU has averaged 41.8 rebounds a game to its opponents’ 34.7. KU outboards its foes, 38.5 to 30.5.

“They definitely crash the boards better than a lot of teams in the country,” said Robinson, the only player in the Big 12 to average a double double at 17.7 points and 12.2 boards per game.

“They are a good 50/50 team,” he added of securing the basketball when it is up for grabs. “It’s going to be a man’s game. Whoever wins most of the 50-50 balls has a lot better chance of winning.

“Me personally, it’s definitely a side I bring,” he added of being willing to scrap for rebounds. “That’s what I live off of, coming down and rebounding. I’ll take the challenge.”

The 6-10, 237-pound Robinson said this one could come down simply to which team wants it the most.

“We want to start the conference right. Now we’re playing for keeps,” Robinson said. “I mean it’s definitely for respect, but we’ve got something to protect. That’s our conference title. We’ve got seven (in a row). We want to make it eight.”

For KU to take care of business at home before heading to Oklahoma (Saturday) and Texas Tech (Wednesday), it’ll have to beat a squad that has outscored foes 77.2 points a game to 61.7.

KU averages 76 points and allows 59.8.

“They care. They care a lot,” KU junior guard Elijah Johnson said of what he learned by watching the Wildcats in Sprint Center. “They’ve got a tough coach over there. He chews them out. They got players who go the extra mile, who set the tone on the court, ones who are very vocal.”

Four Wildcats score in double figures. Rodney McGruder leads the way at 12.5 ppg, followed by Will Spradling (11.8), Samuels (11.8) and Gipson (10.4).

“They are long, athletic and scrappy. It’s K-State, just like always,” Johnson said. “They rebound pretty well.”

As far as intangibles ...

“If anything, they don’t have that leader any more,” Johnson said of Pullen, who scored 21 in a 90-66 loss to KU last Jan. 29 in Allen, then exploded for 38 in a 84-68 win over KU on Feb. 14 in Manhattan. “We’ve still got our leader, Tyshawn (Taylor), and we’ve got some other leaders on our team. I like our experience on the floor. We’re ahead of them. Honestly, there’s not too many teams I can say that about. I feel like we’re ahead of them as far as experience, as far as leadership and having some players who have played in some big games. I don’t feel we lack in that area,” Johnson added.

K-State’s only loss was to West Virginia, 85-80, in double overtime, on Dec. 8 in Wichita. The Wildcats have won at Virginia Tech and also downed Southern Illinois, UTEP and Long Beach State at the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii. The Cats routed LBSU, 77-60; KU beat the same opponent, 88-80, in Allen.

KU coach Bill Self enters with a healthy amount of respect for the new-look Wildcats.

“I think they are probably more balanced now without Jacob,” Self said, “but I watched Jacob in person get 38 (points). I thought they were pretty good that night. From my standpoint, I’m glad he’s graduated and gone.

“I do think that there’s more balance now, and guys seem to accept their roles. Usually when you don’t have a go-to guy like they had in Jacob, it makes it hard to guard because teams don’t just focus in on one guy. I think on the offensive glass ... they do that as well as anybody,” Self added. “A big key is whether or not we can keep them off the glass. Sometimes their best offense is missed shots, which is a compliment to them, because that’s a testament to how hard they play.”

Playing a rugged team like KSU certainly makes for an intriguing opener in the Big 12.

“It’s a toss-up game whenever it’s K-State versus Kansas,” KU’s Johnson said.

“We don’t hide from anybody,” Robinson noted. “This is how we’ve got to start, then this is how we’ve got to start. I’d rather come out of the gate running than walking to somewhere.”

The race

Self said he could envision a record of 14-4 winning the Big 12: “We’ve won a few times at 13-3, so 14-4 may not get it outright. I think that would be a great record in this league with a chance to win it. The league is so much better than anybody thought it was coming into it,” Self said.

Rebounding

On center Jeff Withey being used just eight minutes in Saturday’s rout of North Dakota: “I’m not mad at Jeff or the other guys (on bench). I’m just a little perturbed,” Self said with a smile. “I don’t think we rebound the ball like we should. The reason we make emphasis of certain things is for games like this game. If you let it slide against other people, then the chances are that when you really have to be a great rebounding, physical team, chances are you can’t just turn it on and off. It has to be a staple of who you are. Jeff is going to be very important in this game, but others are (as well).”

Boot

KU junior Releford has been wearing a boot to protect a bruised right foot. KU coach Self said Releford is OK and should be able to play tonight.

Frank Martin on KU

“I don’t think anybody in the country would have an undefeated record if they’ve played the schedule that Kansas has played. Kansas has lined up and played anybody and everybody, and anywhere.”

Of the game, he added: “We’re ready to go. Does that mean we have a chance to win? I’ve got no idea. But our guys have been good. They’ve answered the bell every time. What’s going to happen in Big 12 play?” Martin asked. “I don’t think anybody knows.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

billsboy 2 years, 3 months ago

This is the dumbest KU team I've ever seen! Led by TT!

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Steve Brown 2 years, 3 months ago

Nice pre game show on 38 in KC area.

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Jeeveshawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Match ups for KU vs KSU

  1. Taylor vs. Spradling: If Taylor controls turnover problem, he dominates, if not, toss up
  2. Johnson vs Irving: Johnson wins easily
  3. Releford vs McGruder: slight edge to McGruder
  4. Robinson vs Samuels: Thomas will eat Jamar alive!
  5. Gipson vs Withey: If Withey plays strong, he should win.
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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

Jason King, Jay Bilas and, of all people, Brent Mussberger are three of the media's biggest Jayhawk boosters.

Brent remembers 1988 when he predicted an upset and Billy Packer thought he was crazy. The Hawks made Brent look like a prophet that night and he's never forgotten it!!

Besides..making Billy Packer look like an ass......priceless!!!!

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Andrew Washington 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm so glad that Jason King is now with ESPN, the Jayhawks are recieving more front page coverage with his stories; he writes about KU bb quite a bit-gives us a good espn presence. He was once a local reporter in KC wasn't he?

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

Team Jayhawk..recess is over. Now it's war!!

I want you to go into every conference game with the passion to rip off our opponents heads, reach into their chest cavities, pull out their hearts, throw them on the ground and stomp all over them.

And when you get to the Missouri games, then get really mean!!!!

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Steven Jackson 2 years, 3 months ago

I'll be watching watching the game online tonight @ http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/source/espn3/ GO BIG BLUE!

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jayhwkr77 2 years, 3 months ago

I want everyone on here to just stop...take a minute...and think about the concept of taking the time join another school's website and joining the conversation in the way of trash-talking.

hahaha maybe it's just me but i personally find that idea hysterical. If it's not the ultimate sign of inferiority i don't know what is.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

I know that the Kitties are improved and that we aren't as strong / deep as usual, but I'm sorry - I still have this contempt for K-State and every time we play them I'm reminded of this scene from the movie "Just Friends"

"You can't compete? Are you kidding? You're Chris Brander. You're Hollywood, you date models! He's Jersey, he skis in his jeans. It's Dinkleman. It's Dusty Dinkleman"

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Robert Brown 2 years, 3 months ago

The station in Houston that used to broadcast all of the Big 12 network games not shown on ESPN has changed to a Spanish format. That's a disappointment!! We used to get doubleheaders every Saturday along with Big 12 games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I have a nervous feeling about tonight's game. I have seen K-State play a couple of times and they look real good. The one thing we have going in our favor is that we have tended to be more focused when the opponent was better.

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Steve Gantz 2 years, 3 months ago

ESPN will give the nation Duke-Temple but not KU-KState.

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Cantkeepagooddudedown 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm going to be at the bar with my brother tonight. We watched two games together last year.... KU was 0-2.

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Hammertoe 2 years, 3 months ago

K-State vs KU in all sports last year 13- 1 K-State vs KU this year in all sports 3-0 (2 VB wins and 1 football win) We may give you this one tonight to level the competition to 16 - 2.

It's still Football Season. Celebrating another 10 or 11 win season. on the way to Dallas.

EMAW

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jayhwkr77 2 years, 3 months ago

I feel very strongly about KU winning this game, I don't think it will be all that close. The environment will be too much to handle tonight for the Cats.

Give K-State a lot of credit this year. they've significantly overachieved this season due to having arguably the best (game coach) in the Country. At some point you are overmatched though. We've seen this story before though, KSU coming into a big game at Allen and getting overwhelmed.

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missouricat 2 years, 3 months ago

This is going to be a fun game to watch tonight between you two. Can't really give the advantage to either side, so will have to stay in the middle on this one.

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wildjayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

It's going to be a close game, will have to give the edge to KST. thou.

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William Blake 2 years, 3 months ago

We are playing in our barn.

We will be defending our string of 7 B12 titles and we will be defending AFH.

Bring it, kiddy kats!

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Konkis Dongington III 2 years, 3 months ago

You know, I never took the rivalry with KSU very seriously because it was far more fun to hate on Mizzery. But with the tigers turning tail, I suppose now is as good a time as any to switch focus. I mean, I still want to give Mizzery a proper send off, but we may as well give our new primary rival a proper salutation as well.

KSU has a remarkably similar stat line to ours this year, but they haven't played half the schedule we have, and I think that's going to be the difference in this game. Hopefully Johnson will start taking the ball into the paint more. Otherwise, we're at the mercy of his streaky outside shooting. When he's on, he can certainly light it up, but missing a lot doesn't seem to deter him when he's off, and he's been there far more often this season. I never thought I'd have to type it, but maybe leave the 3-pt shooting to Taylor?

At the end of the day, I think we come away with a solid win, 8 - 10 points. I'd be thrilled with anything better. KU 75, KSU 66.

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KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 3 months ago

Kubassat - mine shows the same thing. Do you have to have the full court package to get it ?

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okchawks24 2 years, 3 months ago

excited about tonight ku gets its first big twelve win by beating the kansas state wildcats i mean mildcats again in lawrence my pred ku 75 ksu 68 and on saturday will be in norman okla watching my jayhawks beating ou in allen field house south

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REHawk 2 years, 3 months ago

"...anybody and everybody, and anywhere." Nice line, Frank.

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Doug Fogleman 2 years, 3 months ago

I have Dish Network and the guide shows the game on channel 447.

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Steve Gantz 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm grumpy, after a break, I've got to head back to work tomorrow, so here's my gripes: 1.The TV thing. It shouldn't even be a discussion. This is a major rivalry for one of the nations' top programs. This happened last year too as I recall. No national TV for KU-KSU? Really ESPN? Would you relegate Duke-UNC to ESPN3?
2. I get perturbed by the "who wants it more" line, or after a loss saying "they wanted it more". I'm pretty sure in a rivalry like this both teams desperately want this game, no team is going to want it more.
3. Frank Martin is right in that we've played a tough schedule, except we've managed to play that tough schedule at home or at neutral sites. Other than USC, we have managed to avoid any true road games once again. Bill Self needs to go back and look at the schedule Larry Brown played when I was enrolled at KU. I think it's a reason for some of our infamous losses in the tourney.

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JJHawq 2 years, 3 months ago

TRob MUST stay out of early foul trouble. I'm worried about the team coming in with a bruiser's mentality and the ref's calling it tight early to keep control. TRob has to keep himself in the game.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

No luck in getting it in St.Louis on cable or network......the bastards!!

10,000 KU alum and we get Texas vs Iowa State >:-(

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Mike Kendall 2 years, 3 months ago

T-Rob noted, "We don't hide from anybody!"

Unless you are dynamitejayhawk, and you need to hide yo kidz--LOL.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk---Let's do this and stuff the Wildcats. Taxidermists would be proud!

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Andrew Washington 2 years, 3 months ago

ESPN 3 will be showing it online.. and unless you live in Colorado it will not be subjected to blackout.

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KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 3 months ago

Man I'm jacked for this game ! Can't wait to see the outcome !

Noticed the game was on the Big 12 Network. Does anyone know how to get this game ? Have Dish Network...but will I have to go to a bar to watch it ?

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DSommersby 2 years, 3 months ago

Rock Chalk Jayhawks!!! Let's get conference play started off right. This will definitely be an amped up atmosphere and intensity on the floor tonight. Need to share the ball and keep it moving and not let it stick. Work it side to side and get some double and triple reversals.

Win the glass, all hands on deck. Win those 50/50 balls, and play balls out! Stay on their shooters, and make them have to put the ball on the deck and create their shots off the dribble. Get out on the perimeter and block out. Let's hit our free throws tonight and do the basics. Need our bench tonight to really step up and contribute. Everyone play their part.

Have fun and get it done tonight in the Fieldhouse. Rock Chalk!!!

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