Tuesday, December 19, 2006
After 10 days to both reflect on the season's opening stretch and look forward to the final piece of the non-conference schedule, Kansas University returns to action tonight at Allen Fieldhouse against 1-13 Winston-Salem State.
Though not too many folks got the message, apparently.
Playing before a less-than-stellar crowd at what is normally one of the nation's most intimidating home atmospheres, it looks like most of the KU die-hards are waiting to return for Saturday's nationally televised showdown with Boston College.
But the KU players don't have such a luxury.
Even though the game, both on paper and at a closer look, appears heavily tilted in the Jayhawks favor, coach Bill Self is hoping for a more inspired performance than the one he got as a whole in KU's last contest - a 68-58 win over Toledo at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 9.
The Rams present the opportunity to dominate. Not a single player on the Winston-Salem State roster averages in double figures in scoring, and its leading rebounder pulls down just 4.6 per contest.
Sasha Kaun earned his first start of the season, which gave the crowd on hand an initial reason for cheer.
He also flushed home the game's first two points on a lob from Mario Chalmers, following a Winston-Salem State turnover in the opening seconds.
Jamal Durham, WSS's leading scorer, hit a three-pointer, but it was followed almost immediately by another KU lob, this time with Julian Wright scoring two poitns off the glass in mid-air. Wright scored again after another WSS turnover with a reverse layin following a Kaun miss inside.
Mario Chalmers then hit a mid-range baseline jumper on the heels of the Rams' Darius Floyd airing a three from the corner, giving KU an early 8-3 lead.
Russell Robinson kept the early run rolling off of a steal, as he was intentionally fouled in transition by Greg Lewis. He hit one of two free throws, and KU couldn't score on the free possession, as a lob for Darrell Arthur went off the rim.
Brandon Rush was fouled on a fast break heading into the game's first full break with KU leading 9-3 at the 15:54 mark.
Rush curled in both free throws for the Jayhawks out of the timeout, to make it a 9-0 offensive run for KU since Durham's three-pointer on the Rams' second possession of the game.
Curtis Hines ended KU's stretch after the free throws with a three of his own, but it was immediately responded to by a Darrell Arthur jumper from the top of the key. Arthur then showed off some defensive flair, wiping out Durham's attempt at a back door layup.
Wright scored points No. five and six on yet another lob, this time from Darrell Arthur's post at the top of the key, but Floyd canned a three for the Rams to make it a 15-11 contest. Darrell Wonge scored after that for WSS off of a teammate's miss to make it a two-point game.
Brady Morningstar finally ended the drought of intensity for KU, following his own missed three in the corner with two points on the interior, produced by a tough offensive rebound. A Winston-Salem State turnover gave the ball back to KU, with the Jayhawks up 17-13, but not before a T.V. timeout at 11:39.
Morningstar scored again out of the timeout on a no-look feed from Mario Chalmers on a fast break.
Winston Salem State's Darrell Wonge missed a pair of free throws on the other end, and Mario Chalmers constructed an odd offensive possession to follow it, but he finished it by hitting a three with the shot clock melting away, putting KU back up big, 22-13.
Brandon Rush hit an awkward yet precise two for KU moments later on the baseline to make it a double-digit contest, and KU got the ball back yet again off of a loose-ball foul on WSS's Greg Lewis.
KU made good, with Darrell Arthur scoring an easy two points off of a sweet spin-and-dish from Darnell Jackson just feet away, putting KU up 26-13 with 7:55 left in the first half.
The highlight of the night so far came from the combo of Mario Chalmers and Jeremy Case. After Case threw a failed lob to Darrell Arthur, KU got another fast break opportunity, but Chalmers was being pestered by Norman Carter the whole way down. Eventually, after meandering for a bit, he flipped the ball behind his back to Case for an easy deuce. Case had a chance to keep it flowing with a transition three on the next possession, but he missed it long from the right wing.
Wright was again the recipient of crisp perimeter passing turned aggressive, as he scored his seventh and eighth points of the game on a sharp pass inside from Rush.
Kaun pushed KU's lead to the brink of 20 points after another Winston-Salem State miss, as he hit a layup on the run from Sherron Collins while getting a hand raked down his face. Kaun's free throw put KU up 33-13.
The Rams' Darius Floyd finally ended KU's paralyzing 18-0 run with a three int he corner, but Sherron Collins answered back with a three atop the key, keeping KU's lead at 20.
On yet another transition exhibition, KU threw as many passes as possible, ending in a wide open Collins layup, putting KU up 38-16 with 3:12 to go until halftime.
Wright ripped down a vicious defensive board out of the last full timeout of the half, and then scored on a quick pass from Darnell Jackson, giving the sophomore big man 10 points on the night. After WSS scored quickly, and Collins again responded with a trey - his second of the contest.
Curtis Hines hit his second three of the game for WSS with less than 15 seconds before the half, forcing Bill Self to whistle a quick timeout before the break. After Sherron Collins missed a late layin attempt, Darnell Jackson cleaned it up for his first two points of the night, putting KU up 45-21 at the break.
Julian Wright leads all scorers with 10 points, while Sherron Collins has added eight for the Jayhawks.
To open the second half, KU scored on a lob just as it did in the opening stanza. This time it was Brandon Rush with the throwdown. And he scored again moments later on a fast break layup which went pretty much uncontested.
Rush scored again out of the half on a pull-up three to put KU up 52-21 just over a minute into the half, giving him 11 points on the night.
Darrell Arthur scored on a quick turnaround after Winston-Salem State called a timeout right after Rush's three, giving the freshman big man six points nad putting KU up 54-21.
Julian Wright added two points before going to another television break with 15:43 to play in the game.
Darrell Wonge scored on a tough inside two for WSS off of a KU turnover, but couldn't capitalize on the free throw that went with it, making the team a collective 0-for-5 from the stripe.
In response, Darrell Arthur scored again inside, only to be answered by a Darius Floyd three. Floyd hit another three after a few more ugly passes by KU, pulling WSS back under the thirty-point barrier at 58-29.
Kaun didn't let that last, as he dumped in an easy two while being fouled underneath, giving him seven points on the night. He missed the subsequent free throw.
Brandon Rush then took a Russell Robinson fast break feed to score his 12th and 13th points as KU continued to re-establish dominance. After WSS's Floyd scored again, giving himself 12 on the night, Sherron Collins shot down the floor with the ball and fed Russell Robinson underneath to cancel it out.
It put KU up 64-31 with 11:43 left.
Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson each it a free throw out of a break, and a Mario Chalmers layup elevated KU's lead once more to 68-31.
Collins went to the line again after he was intentionally fouled going for an easy two off of a long baseball pass. He hit both free throws, and then on the ensuing possession, WSS was called for a technical foul. Chalmers hit the two technical free throws, and then Julian Wright took his turn to shoot two on a personal foul which put KU in the double bonus. Wright hit one of two to put KU up 73-31.
KU didn't let up, though, as Chalmers threw yet another lob, this time to Darnell Jackson, and it sent Chalmers thumping his chest ont he way back down the floor.
Julian Wright then hit a tear-drop turnaround jumper after WSS scored to end a drought of its own. It gave KU a 77-35 advantage with 7:38 left.
Darius Floyd hit yet another three out of the full timeout to give him a game-high 17 points, but WSS still found itself down by a more-than-insurmountable margin at 77-40.
Brandon Rush then swatted a three at the top of the key, and off of it, Jeremy Case floated a deep pass over his head which he corralled just before hitting the opposite lane, giving him just enough time to throw it home one-handed.
Darrell Arthur then scored off of yet another Brandon Rush block, putting him in double figures, and he got a trip to the free throw line at the same time. He hit it to put KU up 82-40.
After WSS finally hit its first free throw of the game in its seventh attempt, KU broke a Rams press, resulting in Brady Morningstar perfectly lobbing an alley-oop for Sasha Kaun. Case then threw yet another one to Darrell Arthur, giving the freshman big man 13 points on the night.
Jeremy Case orchestrated a shot clock consuming possession out of the final full timeout of the game, and he drilled a long three to ice it, putting KU up 89-41.
Sasha Kaun put himself in double figures for the second straight game with an inside turnaround off the galss, and after that Brennan Bechard and Brad Witherspoon checked in for the final 60 seconds or so.
Jeremy Case hit yet another three after the ball went around the world a few times to give himself eight points with just over a minute to go.
It was the last point KU would score en route to a 94-43 final tally.