Sunday, February 22, 2009

First things first

KU dispatches Huskers to set up showdown

With a front tooth missing, Kansas center Cole Aldrich pumps his fist after getting a bucket and a foul with a little over a second remaining in the first half against Nebraska, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

With a front tooth missing, Kansas center Cole Aldrich pumps his fist after getting a bucket and a foul with a little over a second remaining in the first half against Nebraska, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Collins, Kansas shuck Huskers

KU's Sherron Collins exploded for 22 points in Kansas' 70-53 over Nebraska.

Kansas takes down Nebraska

Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins combined for 40 points in the Jayhawks' win over the Cornhuskers.

Audio clips

2009 KU-NU Feb. 21

Kansas University team leaders Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich weren’t going to let the Jayhawks stumble at home Wednesday against Iowa State and Saturday versus Nebraska — not with a monster matchup against Oklahoma looming on Big Monday.

“I think we handled the week great,” Collins said after his game-high 22 points off 8-of-12 shooting helped the Jayhawks down the pesky Cornhuskers, 70-53, in Allen Fieldhouse.

He and Aldrich — who had 18 points Saturday — led the way with 22 points apiece in Wednesday’s 72-55 victory over Iowa State.

“We knew we couldn’t think about Oklahoma because both teams that came in here played us close at their house,” Collins added.

KU beat NU by six and ISU by 15 in road contests in January.

“You’ve got to take every game seriously. I think we did that. Those two games are over with. I’m happy to get them over with so we can go see what we can do against Oklahoma,” Collins said.

Monday’s game, which is for the top spot in the Big 12 Conference, will tip off at 8 p.m. in Norman, Okla.

Aldrich, who played without a mask for the first time in seven games, hit seven of 11 shots and four of nine free throws and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Huskers Saturday.

Aldrich was thrilled the Jayhawks (22-5, 11-1) survived a week in which they were heavily favored to stretch their home winning streak to 39 games heading into their Norman invasion.

“I guess everybody’s biggest fear was overlooking the games. We didn’t do that as a team at all. We said, ‘Hey, you know what? We’ve got to take every game as it is. Get ready for each game. When we play OU, then we’ll worry about it,’’’ Aldrich added.

Aldrich scored a basket off a bank shot and Travis Releford a layup off a feed from Brady Morningstar, then Collins followed with eight straight points in a 12-4 run that upped a 15-12 lead to 27-16 with 3:41 left in the first half.

Collins — his first points of the half came with 6:21 remaining — finished with 10 points off 4-of-5 shooting (Aldrich had 10 as well) the first 20 minutes as KU took a 34-23 lead into the break.

“For a guard to get 22 points on 12 shots is pretty hard to do when they don’t shoot a lot of free throws. I don’t think he took his first shot until after the 10-minute mark. Then he made four in a row,” KU coach Bill Self said of his junior floor leader.

“He bailed us out at the end of the clock when we ran bad offense. He was really good,” Self added, also lauding Aldrich and Markieff Morris (nine rebounds, six points) for exceptional games.

Collins drilled a three-pointer to beat the shot clock to give KU a 48-35 lead. He went without a turnover for the second straight game. He had four assists against no turnovers after totaling six assists and no give-aways against Iowa State.

“I was feeling it. It was one of those days. I guess I’m out of my funk, right?” Collins said with a smile.

His two straight stellar offensive performances put to rest any talk of his being in a slump.

Collins had made 22 of 65 shots (33.8 percent) including seven of 29 threes (24.1 percent) in a five-game span prior to Wednesday’s 9-of-17 effort versus ISU. He made four of six threes versus the Cyclones, two of four against Nebraska.

“I don’t believe in slumps. I really don’t,” Collins said. “When we’re winning, I don’t think it’s a slump.”

Sophomore center Aldrich, who has scored at least 18 points three games in a row, played well upon shedding his facemask Saturday.

Like Collins, he started slowly, scoring his first hoop on a jumper halfway through the first half.

“I thought it was the time to try to get away from it (the mask). It’s been 3 1/2 weeks now (since he broke nose at Nebraska),” Aldrich said. “The doctor has been saying the last week, ‘It’s totally up to you.’ I just went out and said, ‘You know what, I think it’s time. Let’s try to play without it.’ It felt fine. I didn’t get any whacks or anything. It was successful.”

Now the Jayhawks can concentrate fully on Monday’s game at OU, when the Jayhawks can position themselves for a fifth straight Big 12 regular-season championship.

“I’m proud of our kids that 13 games into the conference season we can say we’re playing for first place,” Self said.

“We’ll be fired up. I’ll have the guys ready. It’s my job,” Collins said.

Just as it was his job to make sure KU didn’t stumble against its Big North brethren Wednesday and Saturday.


lv_jhwk 13 years, 9 months ago

Didn't get to see the game, so can't really make any comments. Seems from what I read to be a decent outing, especially with Monday looming. (Hope that Griffith is able to play...will make a win that much sweeter.)

Any ideas on whether Stephenson seemed to enjoy himself? Obviously the game is but one part of his visit and its too early for comments, but I'm sure his mug made the telecast. Perhaps some of you who were there can enlighten as well.

Finally, a quick link on a future commit, just in case you missed it:

Lin Rahardja 13 years, 9 months ago

Play smart against OU, and play hard against Blake, he was intimidated today at Texas, was woozy after being gently knocked. Time to secure BIG-12, GO HAWKS!

jayhawkarmy 13 years, 9 months ago

Any word yet as if Blake is going to play against Kansas i mean either way i think ku can take them and take the top spot where we belong rock chalk baby

Chris Seferyn 13 years, 9 months ago

well we're going to see what Bill can do - we have no one that can cover Griffin but then who does? I think we'll see Cole + instant double teams + maybe a box and one at times. We can't stop him but normally one guy can score 40 and we still win anyway (except Mitch Richmond's 45 in 1988). These guys will be ready after the Texas game to knock us down... I figure we lose but are competitive and learn more for the dance... its us and OU for the B12 tourney title (rematch) in OKC... turn the sound down b/c Vitale has the telecast Mon night...

kc_wildfire 13 years, 9 months ago

Got to love Vitale and his unrivaled passion for college basketball and the kids who play it. Give me him any day over Packer, Maguire, etc.

jhawkmike57 13 years, 9 months ago

Even if we lose to OU on Monday, I'm just glad that our 40th straight HOME victory will come against Mizzou next Sunday. That is a sweet, sweet thought.

Blake Post 13 years, 9 months ago

Kill the misery tiger lilly hillbillies.

When we play nebraska, and when they say dagunduro (sp?), I give him the nickname doggie do-do :D

lance1jhawk 13 years, 9 months ago

If Blake Griffin can play monday fine... If he does not then all that much better. Him playing or not OU is going to be a handful. Actually I kind of hope he doesn't plays and KU wins in a landside, we could use the RPI boost. The first time I would want to see OU's Blake Griffin is on a sunday down the road in the BIG12 championship game.

JJHawq 13 years, 9 months ago

I hope he's there... win or lose - I want the best OU team out there.

Michael Auchard 13 years, 9 months ago

He and Aldrich — who had 18 points Saturday — led the way with 22 points apiece in Wednesday’s 72-55 victory over Iowa State.

-- Gary, you might want to revise this.

Michael Auchard 13 years, 9 months ago

Also, last revision, I swear...

Sophomore center Aldrich, who has scored over 18 points three games in a row, played well upon shedding his facemask Saturday.

-- How has Cole scored over 18 points the last three games if he scored 18 in yesterday's game?

Brian Powell 13 years, 9 months ago

You have to admit that, on the road at Texas, OU was pretty tough to play til the last shot without one of the best players in the country.

I hope our game is as close on Monday, esp. if Griffin is in.

Brian Powell 13 years, 9 months ago

LOL I just watched the highlights (missed the game) and did I see Little tie-up another loose ball vs. Nebraska?? That was funny.

KGphoto 13 years, 9 months ago

Cole looks fearsome missing a tooth.

Now about Griffin. I haven't seen a replay of what I believe was the real blow that knocked Griffin out of the game. He certainly got the bloody nose from the replay they keep showing, but he had a massive collision with somebody on another play, either right before or right after the nose bump. I remember being surprised that both guys walked away from it. They never showed that replay again.

Did anybody see who it was? I'm guessing it was that tank Pittman.

imzcount 13 years, 9 months ago

Cole handled Hansbrough,...I'm sure he can deal with Griffin.

hometownhawk 13 years, 9 months ago

I agree Cole can match up with Griffin, but Griffin is 10 times the player Hansbrough is.

KGphoto 13 years, 9 months ago

Different players. Blake is WAY more athletic than Tyler. And Cole's been having a lot of trouble with fast, high flying forwards/centers. Jordan Hill just owned him. And Griffin is a stronger, tougher version of Hill.

If we win Monday, it's my guess that McTwins help out a lot.

jco8394 13 years, 9 months ago

I ran across this interesting video about Demarre Carroll on YouTube:

KU 13 years, 9 months ago

imzcount.....Hansbrough and Griffin shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence. If Hansbrough played for any other team but UNC, he would be just another pretty good big ND's Hanango....however you spell it.

Griffin is an explosive, renlentless athlete. Cole can't contain him alone.

If KU doesn't put a body on him and he gets 15 boards, we're in big trouble. I'd concede him 30 points and just shut down Johnson with Morningstar. We don't have a good matchup for Warren--he's 6'4 and athletic. I could see Griffin scoring 30 and Warren get 20. As long as we can keep one of their other guys from getting double digits, we should be in the game.

Yesterday's game set us up well for Monday. The slower pace NU plays at allowed us to reserve a little energy. Collins and Aldrich got to sit quite a bit late. OU played late and had to expend everything, but their crowd will pump them up at home after a short turn-around.

nocaljayhawk 13 years, 9 months ago

I sure hope HCBS has them ready to play tomorrow night. I predict it'll be an angry OU squad, and I fear some of KU's younger players will show the 'deer in the headlights' look for too long and they could fall too far behind.

beebe1 13 years, 9 months ago

Interesting that Griffin was hit pretty hard earlier. Pittman came down on him, straight down. He wasn't looking at him; he wasn't thrashing his arms for room; nothing. I couldn't see the damage from the Pittman/Griffin replay -- several times. I think it must have been a reinjury the second time. And Griffin looked pretty woozy thereafter. He was hurt pretty badly, it seems. It would be a shame to put him in Monday's game with a lingering injury.

The OU team played very well without him. Griffin being out isn't an excuse to win. And they had, it seems, three other guys that stepped up to replace him. Looks to me that they will be hard to guard, especially behind the 3 pt line.

Tony Bandle 13 years, 9 months ago

I totally agree with drgnslayr. OU has not met a match up pair like Sherron and Cole...the key will be someone [Marcus, Little, Morningstar, etc.] will have to step up and be that essential third scoring threat. The key to our success last year was virtually no one could shut down all three scorers [Rush, Chalmers, Arthur]. When this year's team has struggled, part of the reason was no one was able to offer this threat to open it up for Cole and Sherron.

It should be great fun to watch and be a true barometer of this team's progress.

No starters back plus seven new players and this team is a foul shot and two baskets from being 25-2 and a projected #1 Seed. Anyone out there that can point to a better coaching job than Bill Self this year????

JayhawkLova7 13 years, 9 months ago

I agree Bill Self has done a fantastic job with a young team. Losing are starters was tough but Bill seems to get us right back in the hunt. The Nebraska game was a awesome game for the Jayhawks they played hard. I just wish that Tyshawn would make some better decisions with the ball but hey, he is a freshman and they are expected to make those mistakes. I strongly think that Tyshawn could very well be one of the better players on the team. He has the athleticism and quickness, he isn't such a bad shooter either. He really has the whole package and could be really, really good in a couple years time, maybe even sooner. Hey with Self as your coach anything can happen.

This will be a big game for the Jayhawks and we are going to have to come out swinging. Cole is going to need some help down low with Blake, even though Cole owned Tyler Hansbrough. Blake Griffin is so athletic and quick. The twins are going to have to step up big and play tough basketball come Monday night. I think they can. I am so pumped about this game, I don't how I am going to get through tomorrow anticipating game time. I'll get through it somehow.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Kevin Sontag 13 years, 9 months ago

As of right now, Griffin is "improving, but doubtful" for Big Monday.

Monday is gonna be so looooooong! Must sleep until 7:45pm!

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