Columbia, Mo. Kansas' subs made a statement Tuesday night.
"I think we showed we're not a team of five players. We're 10 solid, 10 deep," freshman Patrick Richey said after the Jayhawks' 74-70 win over Missouri at Hearnes Center.
Ten Jayhawks played nine or more minutes, handing Missouri its first Big Eight home basketball loss in 20 outings.
"Our starting five can't do it all the time. It's up to the rest of us to pick it up, too," said Richey. The 6-8 native of Lee's Summit, Mo., scored six points in 14 minutes, including a key three-pointer that upped a three-point lead to 59-53 with 4:02 left.
Richey plus bench mates Steve Woodberry, Richard Scott, Sean Tunstall and David Johanning played the final 6:55 of the first half.
THEY WERE outscored 10-9, yet fared better than KU's starters, who hit four of 18 shots and trailed, 21-13, at the time of coach Roy Williams' mass substitution.
At half, Missouri led, 31-22. KU was reeling after committing 12 turnovers and shooting just 26.9 percent from the field.
"To be honest about it, if Missouri hit their free throws (11 of 24), we'd have been down 25 at half," said Williams. "For some reason we were not ready to play. I couldn't believe that'd be the case against Missouri.
"The bench gave us a tremendous lift. Those kids kept us in it. They executed."
Their play ignited the starters, who outscored Missouri, 6-0, to start the second half.
"THEY'RE COMPETITORS. It was embarrassing to them. It was a left hook," Williams said of the starters' first-half pine time.
The starters agree.
"It was frustrating," said center Mark Randall, who scored 10 points eight the second half. "But I'm glad he did it. We didn't have our heads in it. I've said before and coach has said before `We've got to strike from the beginning.'''
Of the reserves, Randall said: "I'm confident in the people behind us. Those guys played well."
"The first half, we were not intense on defense," said forward Mike Maddox, who had five points and six boards. "We weren't ready to play. I don't know why. But we showed some character coming back. It's not easy to come back and win at Missouri."
The Jayhawks trailed by a game-high 13 points the first half (KU's lowest scoring half since a 22-pointer versus St. John's in 1987) and lagged by nine, 37-28, with 17:05 left.
Adonis Jordan and Alonzo Jamison scored three points apiece and cut the gap to 37-34 at 16:01. A 5-2 burst Randall scored three and Terry Brown two tied it at 39 with 15:00 left.
"I WAS A little surprised at how quick we came back the second half," Maddox said.
KU led for the first time, 43-41, following a Tunstall dunk at 11:15.
Missouri, however, regained a 49-48 lead at 6:48 on a bucket by center Doug Smith, who led all scorers with 23 points.
Jamison scored and Brown, who totaled 15 points all the second half swished a three, giving KU a 53-49 lead at 5:37. Up 61-53 at 3:40, KU had to sweat it out, as MU crept back, 63-61, at 2:10.
It was a free throw contest the final two minutes, KU sinking 11 of its final 16.
Crucial ones came from Brown, who hit three of four and upped a 69-67 lead to 72-67 at :28.
"I think this is a great example of not giving up," Williams said.
His Jayhawks improved to 18-4 overall and 7-2 in the Big Eight. MU dropped to 13-8 and 5-4.
"There's a lot of noise in that locker room," Williams said. "I think everybody in that room feels they had a hand in the win."
Especially backup point guard Woodberry.
"I FEEL GREAT. I think everybody feels great because everybody got to play and everybody contributed," said the freshman guard. He had nine points and two assists while playing 22 minutes.
"I think it's one of our biggest wins because of they way we pulled together."
For KU, Jamison (11) and Randall (10) joined Brown in double figures. KU hit 41.5 percent of its shots to MU's 40.7. The Jayhawks connected on 27 of 44 free throws to MU's 21 of 36.
"We hit some big ones when it got hairy at the end," said Williams.
KU next faces Kansas State at 1:10 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.